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How to be a savvy consumer all the way through labor

Women spend much of their pregnancies staying up to date with important health information. They read current books, news articles and search the Internet high and low for the best advice. They closely question their care providers about which cheeses and fish are healthful and which are not. They ask for research on cold medications, epidurals and the health benefits of breastfeeding.

Women are powerful consumers of health care, and that need not stop at the door of labor and delivery. If you are hoping for a uncomplicated, vaginal delivery - be that drug free or not - you can boost your chances of success if you BRAND everything. BRAND is an acronym that helps you break down each and every procedure in labor and delivery, so that you remain a powerful decision makers, even when you are contracting hard at 9 centimeters and waiting to push your baby out.

  • Benefits: Ask for the benefits of each procedure,  be that something that seems so basic as placing in IV drip of fluid, or something more aggressive such as adding a drug to that IV, such as Pitocin to strengthen your contractions.


  • Risks: Ask what the risks are for the procedure. If you think there might be risks, ask about them, for example, "Nurse, will an IV drip attached to a pole make it harder for me to walk around during my labor?"


  • Alternatives: What are the alternatives to this procedure? "Doctor, research shows that light eating and drinking during labor has no ill-effects. Is it possible I can stay hydrated by drinking fruit juice and water?"


  • Nothing: Doing Nothing must be considered as viable alternative in non-emergency situations. If you are concerned about the safety of a procedure meant to speed up your labor, but there is no medical need to have your baby sooner, just doing nothing and waiting for labor to speed up on its own is an option for you.


  • Decide: Once you have all the data, you need to decide, not your partner, not your doctor, but you. When you remain at the center of the decision making process you will feel safer, more secure and your birth will be more satisfying to you, no matter what you decide.

When you pack your bag to  go to labor and delivery, stick an index card with BRAND written on it. It will be one of the most powerful tools in your overnight bag.


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