Wow! I’m still recovering from the amazing response to the last post in this series: Unmedicated Childbirth – Our Choice. While it’s not everyone’s choice, and while it simply doesn’t work out for some, I strongly believe that it’s beneficial to educate yourself and prepare for a natural birth. I can’t imagine anything scarier than going into labor and not having a clue what’s about to happen.
I say prepare for natural childbirth because I know very few people who are able to ”let’s see how it goes” and end up birthing without medication. (My mom is one exception. She rolls her eyes at the idea of birthing classes. “You just go in and push out a baby!” Ok, mom…) The pain is intense. The hospital protocol is overwhelming. The “oh, whatever – just get this baby out of me!” temptation is there.
There are countless methods of preparing for natural childbirth. Because my husband and I are graduates and promoters of The Bradley Method, I’ve asked Dee Anne, a Bradley instructor, to share a bit about the classes.
My husband and I were first introduced to The Bradley Method® (aka Husband-Coached Childbirth®) by friends in Seattle, WA. The knowledge and support we received from our instructor and classmates was well worth the 1.5 hour drive to and from class each way. After a healthy pregnancy, we were blessed with a healthy labor/birth, healthy baby and healthy mother…and a natural birth. The Bradley® classes had completely prepared us for just about every situation that presented itself.
Soon after birth, I felt led to become an instructor myself because we desperately needed the choice for natural birth in my community. There were no other Brand X natural birth options. I have been teaching The Bradley Method® now for two years.
What is so special about The Bradley Method®, and how is it different from Brand X methods? Bradley® classes provide preparation for natural childbirth while cultivating acceptance of all outcomes. It presents a consumer-oriented, woman- and family-centered approach that emphasizes meeting challenges and nurturing yourselves and your baby for the best possible start in parenthood.
The key to The Bradley Method® is relaxation. In classes you will recognize that confidence and relaxation are the determining factors in perception of pain. By replacing the unknown with knowledge, fear and tension can be lessened and replaced with intentional relaxation. Focusing on your slow, deep breathing (abdominal breathing), as well as spontaneity (different positions) and inventing your own methods can help you to meet the intensity and pain of labor. Having the support you need and the ability to communicate your needs to your support person/people as well as to your attendant(s) are also keys to actively giving birth.
In addition, the classes cover the following:
- Trains husband/partner as coach
- Philosophy and benefits of natural birth
- Nutrition and exercise
- Cultural influences on birth
- Prenatal care, testing and options
- Physiology of birth
- Hospital procedures and options
- Relaxation and comfort techniques
- Complications and unexpected outcomes
- Breastfeeding, newborn care, parenting
Reading is a great way to help prepare for birth…especially a natural birth. Several books that I recommend to my students are as follows:
- Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, MD
- Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
- The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
The primary goal of The Bradley Method® is not natural birth…it is a healthy mother, healthy baby. Sometimes that means the need for interventions. Labor and birth are intense, hard work, and each is unique. Through these classes you will learn the tools to work with your body and the process of giving birth, and you will have the knowledge to make the best choices for you and your family at each point along the way.
As for me and my husband, we found our Bradley Method classes to be incredibly informative and empowering. We went into our first labor with confidence, and it’s a good thing… because things don’t always go as planned! (More on that when I tell my birth stories.)
My next post will explore other methods of preparing for a natural birth. If you have posts written on that topic, please send me links!
Do you have questions about The Bradley Method? I’ll do my best to answer them (we’d love to be class instructors someday). Please share your experiences with the method, too. What was most beneficial for you?