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misc.kids.pregnancy Bradley Method FAQ


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Archive-name: misc-kids/pregnancy/bradley/method
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Expires: Mon, 19 Aug 1996 00:00:00 GMT
Last-Modified: 1996/05/19

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Questions Most Often Asked About the Bradley(r) Method of Natural Childbirth.

1) What is taught in the Bradley(r) Method?

	The Bradley(r) Method teaches natural childbirth in the absence of
	medical complications.  This includes:  Active participation of
	a loving partner as Coach; Excellent Nutrition; Avoiding Drugs
	during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding unless
	absolutely necessary; Relaxation and Natural Breathing;
	"Tuning-in" to your body; Immediate and continuous contact with
	the newborn; Breastfeeding beginning at birth; Parent education
	to improve communication with the care provider and take
	responsibility for the safety of birth; and preparation for
	unexpected situations such as emergency childbirth or
	cesareans.

2) Are Bradley(r) classes only for those who want an unmedicated birth?

	No!  Any person who wants to be involved in her medical care
	would benefit from a Bradley(r) class!  There is also the 
	possiblity that there will be a delay in getting medication
	if you want it - wouldn't you like to have ways of keeping the
	pain to a minimum until you get to the hospital/your MD can be
	reached to OK the drugs/etc?  Bradley(r) teachers discuss pain
	medication options available so each pregnant woman (and her Coach!)
	can work with her care provider to make the best decision for
	her care.  Often women find that they do not need pain relief
	medication when they use the techniques taught in class.  While
	the nationwide statistic for medication in labor/delivery is
	around 90%, the Bradley(r) Method's thousands of teachers have
	a cumulative percentage of 86% Unmedicated!  This is not because
	only "tough" women who are totally committed to natural birth
	come to us, either!

3) Are Bradley(r) teachers required to maintain a certain unmedicated
   rate in order to re-affiliate each year?

	No, most Bradley(r) teachers find that a high percentage of 
	their clients do have unmedicated births, but it is not a 
	requrement to maintain a certain average.

Summary of topics as covered in the 12-week series:
(Some teachers are allowed to shorten the series - they must keep all the
topics intact, but they may change the order)

Class 1 - Introduction
Start to learn ways to stay healthy and low risk, learn pregnancy exercises,
discuss ways to handle pain in labor, and practice relaxation.

Class 2 - Nutrition
Focus on what nutrients in what amounts are important in prenancy, evaluate
your diet.  Review of exercises and discussions of sex during pregnancy,
breastfeeding, and ways to stay healthy and low risk.

Class 3 - Pregnancy
The process of gestation, changes in the mother's body, growth of the baby,
anatomy/physiology, and how to handle discomforts naturally.  Begin to
discuss some of the many choices you face regarding labor and birth.

Class 4 - The Coach's Role
The first of two classes focussing on the coach's point of view.  Includes
how to be a great partner during pregnancy, why you are needed at the birth,
the importance of natural childbirth, bonding, and the father's role in
breastfeeding.

Class 5 - Intro. to First Stage Labor
How your body works in first stage labor.  Anatomy/physiology, respect for
the natural process and built-in safeguards for mother and baby.  Basic
coaching techniques and instructions for practicing labor rehearsals at
home.  Standard hospital admitting and prepping procedures.

Class 6 - Intro. to Second Stage Labor
How your body works in second stage labor.  Important concepts include:
the Natural Alignment Plateau and the Fetal Heimlich Manuever.  Basic 
pushing techniques and positions as well as the coach's role will be
covered.  

Class 7 - Planning your Birth
Consumer information and how to make a birth plan.  What your choices are,
how to evaluate your feelings, list your priorities, and meet with your
medical team to discuss your choices in a positive way.  More first stage
labor rehearsal, and relaxation practice.

Class 8 - Variations and Complications/ Postpartum Preparation
How to avoid problems if possible, how to evaluate when it is necessary to
intervene, and how to handle interventions that become necessary.  Taking
care of the postpartum woman.

Class 9 - Advanced First Stage Techniques
Advanced coaching dealing directly with first stage labor.  Labor rehearsal
and role-playing.

Class 10 - Advanced Second Stage Techniques
This class begins with a 30 minute first stage labor rehearsal.  Go over 
the second stage study guide.

Class 11 - Being a Great Coach/ Are you Ready?
How to use the BEST (Bradley(r) Energy Saving Techniques) information to 
keep your energy up and pain down.  Focus is on the readiness of the
coach.  Also included are emergency childbirth (unplanned location, etc)
and a discussion of the purpose of labor.

Class 12 - Preparing for your new family
An advanced labor rehearsal, newborn care, mothering, fathering, and adjusting!

Some material exerpted from: Bay Area Birth Instructors (1990) and
AAHCC class confirmation (1989) All reprinted with permission.  Other 
material is the original work of Sabrina Cuddy, AAHCC.

** For a list of affiliated teachers, please call 1-800-4-A-BIRTH **

--------------------------------------------------------
Meet Your Bradley(r) Teacher

Your Bradley(r) teacher is a health professional who has completed a
comprehensive teacher training program through the American Academy 
of Husband Coached Childbirth(r) (AAHCC).  The three part training 
program consists of academic studies, teacher training workshop, and
student teaching.  The training program can be completed in one year
although the length varies based on each candidate's personal schedule.

The academic portion consists of reading and reporting on books related
to prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum periods, observing another
teacher's classes, attending La Leche League meetings, visiting and
completing a survey of two area hospitals, and making a personal
referral file of other childbirth services available in the community.

The teacher training workshop lasts four days and all necessary topics
are covered by speakers, videotapes, and hands-on learning.  

During the student teaching, each provisional affiliate returns his or
her weekly class outline and teacher evaluation form to the AAHCC.  The
provisional affiliate's students submit nutrition forms and a teacher
evaluation form at the end of the series.  Final certification is
granted after the provisional affiliate satisfactorily completes a
comprehensive final examination.

Continuing education is required annually of all affiliated Bradley(r)
childbirth educators.  Academic requirements, such as reading a new
book related to childbirth education, birth observations, attending a
La Leche League meeting, observing another teacher, and supporting
local AAHCC activities are required before renewal is granted.  All
teachers must also sign a Statement of Policy agreeing to teach only
the principles of the Bradley(r) Method.

Exerpt from a 1990 document published by Bay Area Birth Instructors.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's what I posted to the net, and the responses...

>If you have used the Bradley Method for a birth, please send
>me your experiences for future net.readers!  I want this even if
>you HATED the method, or threw parts right out the window in
>labor!  I want to present a balanced view if I can - I know 
>it is impossible for me to be unbiased since I teach the method!

(From another Bradley teacher)
Well, teacher biases aside, I hope, here is what I like and dislike
about the Bradley Method and how it worked for me with my birth:

Baby #1 - took hospital classes, liked them.  I was at a slight risk
for having a cesarean because of questionable history of herpes simplex
type 2, so also took the cesarean prep class at the hospital.  Prior to
this class, I was TERRIFIED of the idea of having a cesarean.  I am
really glad, in retrospect, that I took this class.  Although I did not
need a cesarean, taking this class removed this fear for me.  I left
the class thinking that I could endure a cesarean, if I needed to.
This helped eliminate lots of the fear I had prior to my labor and
birth.  The birth was straight-forward, a "normal" hospital birth.  I
recieved two injections of pain medication, pushed two hours, with
internal monitor after the first hour was up, recieved a pudendal block
and the doctor used a vacuum extractor to remove my baby.  I had an
episiotomy that extended into a third degree tear.  My baby didn't
nurse for 9 days following the birth.  I have had problems with that
darn tear ever since, and baby is now 9 (years!)

(Note:  In the years following this birth, the negative emotions I had
about this birth and the anger at that dr.  who cut my perinium have
faded, I remember this birth now as one of the two most special and
wonderful events of my life - I'm really very much at peace with how it
went.)

My questions after the birth:  Did the pain medication or the vacuum
extractor affect my baby's ability to nurse?

It never occured to me to ask for pain medication during this labor - I
took it on the recommendation of the labor nurse, had I not asked,
would I have needed pain medication?

I did not feel at all fatigued during the pushing stage, could I have
pushed the baby out without the vacuum extractor given more time?

Would giving birth not flat on my back have prevented the episiotomy
from extending?

Did the hospital classes prepare me to be a good patient?  The message
I got in class was "don't be afraid to use medication, most women need
it."

Prework for baby #2:  Read the book "Natural Childbirth the Bradley
Way", found an instructor.

Enjoyed about the Bradley class:  My teacher was very open and
friendly.  My husband was able to understand and accept things better
from our instructor, at times, than he was from me.  (She was "the
expert" after all, and I was just his wife.  Says alot about our
relationship, I know, but that's a whole other issue.) He finally got
the picture that I wasn't OK with how the first birth had gone, why I
wanted to make some changes this time around.  The class was small, 5
couples, instead of the 50+ in the hospital class.  We got lots more
technical information, practical relaxation exercises, videos, than we
had in the hospital class (and that was with the old workbook, even!).
Wrote our birth plan.  We recieved the message that, properly
supported, most women can give birth naturally.  Good preparation for
complications, too.

Found lacking in the Bradley class we took:
Attention to some of the emotional aspects of birth.  A little
over-preachy about the dangers of ultrasound.  I.E., they were
presented as dangerous rather than unknowns.

How the Bradley class prepared us for birth:
Birth #2 was, in total, an hour longer than birth #1.  Arrived at
hospital after 5 hours of labor at 2 cm.  Nurse-midwife on duty said
"You're not even in active labor yet, this baby is obviously much
bigger than the first baby you needed help in getting out, we may be
looking at a cesarean here."  She left the room.  My husband and I
looked at each other in dismay - after all our careful plans and change
to what we thought were supportive caregivers, we didn't know what to
think.  Shift change happened and a new labor nurse came in.  Suggested
medication to help me sleep, or a bath.  (It was 6am.)  I choose a
bath, and at 9 was found to be 7 cm.  (Not in active labor, yeah,
right.)

This is an important lesson I learned from experience that corresponds
to "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way" - emotional signposts are
better at predicting where you are in labor than cervical dilation.
Sure I was dilated to 2, and the nurse-midwife took dilation to 4 cm as
a sign of active labor.  I went to the hospital after I knew I'd been
in active labor for awhile by my emotional signposts, and I was right.
It just took a little while longer for this active labor to make a
change in my cervix!  No problem!

New nurse-midwife after shift change was very supportive.  Stayed with
me all though pushing.  She chewed out the labor nurse when the labor
nurse suggested medication again, as she recognized that I was doing
fine, and although I was complaining about the pain, that was my way of
coping with it.  I pushed for three LONG hours before giving birth to a
baby 2 whole pounds bigger than my first.  He nursed very well!  I had
a big tear, but it didn't extend.

How the Bradley Method made a difference in the life of my newborn and
myself:

About 5 hours after birth, after moving to our room, the floor nurse
wanted to help me bathe my baby, and she noticed that he was breathing
much too quickly and with too much effort.  She apologized for calling
the pediatrician in to look at the baby "I know she'll want to bring
the baby to the nursery for observation, and I know you want to keep
the baby here, but I really think she should look at him."  Sure
enough, baby goes to the nursery.  My husband had gone home with my
older child to take a nap, and I decided to remain in my room and
finish my supper, then take a quick nap (it was now 5 pm and I hadn't
slept yet!) before joining baby in the nursery.  I woke up about 7 and
went to the bathroom, where I proceeded to hemorrhage.  I became
severely anemic as a result.  I think that using the Bradley Method and
giving birth naturally had two quite unexpected results in our
postpartum:  1)  Baby had fluid in his lungs, and had a great deal of
difficulty breathing for a few days.  He also had a form of
pathological jaundice (ABO).  I was very glad that he was able to put
all his resources toward healing and didn't have to metabolize the
remainder of any medications.  2)  I felt MUCH better 5 days after this
birth than I had 5 weeks after the birth of my first child, despite the
anemia.  This gave me the energy to deal with a child in the level 2
nursery (and one at home!) Oh, yeah, 3)  I followed the advice in the
Bradley workbook to take 2-3 rests in bed every day following the
birth.  I didn't get to do this till baby was out of the nursery and at
home, but once he was home I did.  It made a world of difference in my
energy level and happiness than following my first birth when I was
supermom right away, doing laundry, trying to breastfeed, and wondering
when I'd be able to run marathons again.


Can't help here, but I would include somewhere in the FAQ for
Bradley Method or Birth Plans the other independent childbirth
preparation methods:  IH/IBP and ICAN's BirthWorks.  This may
be helpful for someone who doesn't have a Bradley teacher in
their area but may have one of these other two methods available.

[Note: see the end of this post for other natural childbith methods]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

I have had one "Lamaze" baby and 3 "Bradley" babies.  I had a
paracervical with birth #1, though I resisted it to the end; the other
three babies were totally natural, and very fulfilling.  The reason I
switched: I found out during my first birth that my body's natural
inclinations were to do what I had read about Bradley --- deep
breathing, tuning inside ---- rather than the externally based Lamaze,
which seeks to distract the mother with outside focal points and
different patterns of breathing.  What I got most out of Bradley was a
*confidence* in my body's ability to give birth --- without drugs ---
successfully.  I withdrew into myself as the labor progressed, and
concentrated on letting go and opening up, cooperating with the
process, allowing it to happen.....   I also was able to communicate to
my caregivers and support people when I needed more privacy in order
for all of this to happen. Bradley empowers parents to take
responsibility for their births, rather than hand all of that
responsibility over to a physician.

Nowadays, taking responsibility is probably the ONLY way you can
achieve a natural childbirth. Most Lamaze classes (but not all) are
hospital sponsored and teach what I call "prepared hospital birth".  I
myself teach other prenatal classes for a local hospital, and I have
sat in meetings where the content of "Lamaze" classes was altered to
suit physician preferences, such as the "inconvenience" of squatting
delivery. The changes were not for the good of the patient, but for the
local doctor's preferences!  Patients are to be encouraged to be
cooperative, not assertive as to their needs and preferences.  I
realize that there are probably still a few good Lamaze classes out
there......  but only Bradley is a "standardized" product that serves
parents, not the medical establishment.  :-)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

For our first child, we took the lamaze class offered by the hospital.
at the time i thought that it was great! it offered education on the
birthing process, as well as some technics for dealing with the pain.

but when it came to the actual birth, almost none of the info was of
any use. my wife found that the lamaze breathing just didn't work. and
there were complications, for which the lamaze class didn't offer any
help.

since then, we've spent the past few years educating ourselves.  in
retrospect, i've found the lamaze classes to be a complete waste of
time. they were *really* orienting you towards "being a good patient",
and not being an informed consumer. you simply can't teach all that one
should know in the short timeperiod offered by lamaze!

*[editorial note:  this is often true of Hospital classes, but not
*necessarily of independant Lamaze classes!  Most Lamaze classes are
*6 weeks long - some are more or less]

in contrast, i've found the bradley classes to be great! at first i was
skeptical, but having gone through it, i've found them to be the best
thing on the market. personally, bradley isn't the end all and be all
IMHO; i believe the emphasis should be mother-centered, instead of
"husband-coached". but bradley comes the closest that i'm aware of.

however one educates oneself, one must take in whatever info that one
can find, and adopt it to meet your needs. a birth is as individual as
the person being born!
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, I have used Bradley and I have mixed feelings about it.  I had a
daughter (my first child) vaginally almost two years ago in 1992.  My
husband and I took a Bradley class to prepare for the birth very much
over my OB's strenuous objections.  She doesn't like Bradley and gives
as her main reason that it is anti-feminist ("Husband-coached"....),
but to be honest, I don't think she really knows that much about it.

Our instructor was a very nice very well meaning woman certified in
Bradley training and who had taught about 3 "semesters" (about 2
classes per each "semester") by the time I took her class.  She had a
16 year old daughter who was delivered via c-section when her own labor
stalled.  She had attended only one other birth as coach for one of her
students.  Her lack of experience was a real problem.  She had never
experienced a complete labor herself and had only attended one other.
She had never even pushed during her labor so when we got to that part
of the class she kept saying that we'd know what to do, which wasn't
very helpful.  I learned far more about labor from reading the Susan
Rose-egg McCutcheon book than from her class.  My husband and other
students agreed.  (I spoke to most of the other students outside of the
class and we pretty much agreed about the class, the manual and the
teacher.)

I thought the mandatory Bradley workbook was less than useless.  Most
of the students chucked theirs in a ceremonial gesture as soon as class
was finished.  I held onto mine for awhile until I finally ripped off
the front cover (with the other students names and phone numbers) and
tossed the rest.  We couldn't figure out why they didn't use a better
book.  The videos shown in class were pretty abysmal, especially the
Bradley ones.  Many times I had the impression that since Bradley first
formulated his philosophy and information it was frozen in time and
nothing new was added.  For example, the dietary information was
ancient.

When I finally did have my daughter, she was completely induced (my
water had broken 24 hours before and I had not even started labor).  I
was on pitocin for 2 days, starting 6am on November 4th.  I used the
Bradley relaxation as long as I physically could -- I managed to do
without any drugs until 11am the next morning.  By that time I was
constantly throwing up and crying.  The pain was beyond my control to
deal with any more.  (Up until then I was sipping soups and such but I
couldn't keep them down.)  I finally requested an epidural.  Thank
goodness I had researched drugs because my class didn't cover them at
all.  After that point I was in much better shape and could handle the
rest of the labor and my daughter was finally born at 5pm that evening
after 3.5 hours of pushing and breaking almost every blood vessel in my
eyes.  I can send my full birth story to anyone who is interested.
(shams@perennial.com)

Several months later I learned that one of the students in my class  
was becoming an Bradley instructor.  This surprised me because,  
although she was able to have a natural birth with her son, she had  
NO other birth experience.  My instructor was a very poor instructor.   
I don't think this woman could be much better.  I have very little  
faith in the Bradley certification system -- they seem to let anyone  
teach who has the desire to do so.  I would have preferred a midwife,  
a nurse or someone on that level.  Every time anyone asked our  
instructor a semi-medical question (like to describe the pubycoccyxl  
(kegel) muscle and how it works) she would get defensive.  It was  
very counterproductive as people would just stop asking questions  
like that.  I would also rate Bradley very poorly on it's miserable  
manual.  I'm very glad that I didn't rely solely on that class for my  
information and that I studied, read and collected birth stories from  
misc.kids for real information.

On the other hand, I think that the goal of Bradley is good.  Trying  
to have a drug-free birth without unnecessary intervention is a good  
thing.  But I still think that the class should include information  
on drugs and c-sections (we didn't cover that at all) and it should  
update it's manual and videos.  As a side note, of the 6 couples in  
my class, only one had the natural birth experience.  One had a  
c-section and the rest had epidurals but delivered vaginally.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Editorial Note:
*  I feel that the above story has a lot to do with the instructor rather
*  than the method...  I always have people who call me looking for a class 
*  talk to several teachers (that's an option in my area) to compare the
*  level of experience, number of births attended, style, etc.  This is
*  because there are some who have the attitude that no drugs is the ONLY
*  way to go - I personally believe that my students are intelligent people
*  who, given the facts, can make their own decisions when the time comes!
*  I also give information on drugs, complications, and c-section.  Some
*  of the academy videos are outdated but can serve the purpose of showing
*  natural birth, I have some which were produced in the last 5 years, and
*  I have some which were not made by the academy.  I suppliment my workbook
*  with handouts which I get from newspapers, magazines, the Academy, and
*  Childbirth Graphics.  Please remember: let the buyer beware, screen your
*  teacher!
------------------------------------------------------------------------

We went with the Bradley Method, and were extremely happy we did.

We did quite a bit of reading (I don't have references nearby, but the
usual stuff).  We located a Bradley instructor fairly nearby  (about 25
mins away).  Actually, we had our choice of two instructors in the
area, but one of the women didn't have any children of her own, so it
seemed to us that she didn't have quite the necessary credentials.

Anyway, the class itself was enjoyable enough, although it went along a
bit slowly for me.  Also, because Bradley is a low-tech approach, there
is very little in the way of studies and statistics that are readily
available as part of the coursework:  I had to make an extra effort to
seek these things out.  The point is, if you want proof that Bradley
makes sense, as opposed to anecdotal hints, it's a little difficult to
find.  It does exist, though:  I got a lot of useful information off
the Net, and from some other books.

The reading goes from pretty good to really great.  Wish I had them
here in the office so I could share the titles.  The workbook is pretty
elementary, sometimes even embarrassingly so, but the parts that are
good are REALLY good.  For example, the chart that shows what to expect
and what to do in each stage of labor is a MAJOR PLUS during labor, for
the coach and the mother.

The best thing about Bradley is the constant reassurance from the
reading and the classes that you (the mother and the coach) are able to
handle the birth experience using what Nature gave you.

My biggest problem with Bradley was the relaxation stuff:  I just
couldn't get into it.  So it was useful that we hired our Bradley
instructor as a labor assistant:  she was really good at that stuff and
was able to help my wife relax as necessary.  (Actually, my wife says I
did help her relax, but I never felt totally comfortable with my
ability to do that).

We prepared a Birth Plan in advance, and that was quite helpful not
only in getting the doctors and nurses to know what we wanted, but also
in allowing us to sort out what was really important to us.

My wife went through transition in the car on the way to the hospital.
By the way, without Bradley, and without our labor assistant, we never
would've managed to avoid going to the hospital much earlier.  Anyway,
during the trip she did ask for drugs, so we were glad (and so was she,
a few minutes later) that we weren't in the hospital yet while that was
going on.  Once we got to the hospital and my wife was able to stand up
and not be cramped in the car anymore she completely forgot that she'd
ever asked for drugs.

By the time we got to the hospital, my wife was 10cm and +2 station.
Yahoo!  Then it was just a matter of pushing the baby out.

Five hours later, no baby!  He was stuck:  he was occipital posterior
and (we later discovered) his little hand was wedged in next to his
face, preventing him from turning.  Here's where it gets tricky: the
fetal monitor shows that the baby's heart rate is slowing a bit (after
5 hours of pushing the poor thing is tired);  my wife, who was up all
night *and* the night before is obviously getting very tired, and the
doctors want to intervene.

There again it was nice having the labor assistant to talk things over
with.  In the end we elected to go with a vacuum extractor:  3 minutes
later, a healthy baby conehead!  He had a little black and blue mark on
top of his head from the extractor, but otherwise, was great.

Other than a little local anaesthetic used just before the doctor did
the extractor thing, the birth was drug free.  Until the moment before
birth, when the baby needed just that little extra help, the entire
labor was free of interventions, and the extractor proved to be a quick
and uncomplicated intervention anyway.

I can't imagine having done this all this successfully without the
preparation afforded us by the Bradley classes and books, and certainly
not without the extra help we got from our labor assistant.  Turns out
that the hospital staff was very much in line with how we wanted our
birth to proceed, so that helped things along tremendously.

And, of course, my wife was the real champion, suffering 12 hours of
false labor all night followed by about 18 hours of actual labor the
following night and day.  In second stage, she got four good  effective
pushes from each contraction, hour after hour.  Wow!!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
*This is what one teacher on the net had to say about very assertive
*people who come to our classes - we try to teach good communication,
*but the very vocal few can set the hospital staff against the method...


Students who are dead-set against the medical establishment ALWAYS end
up in my classes.  Week one of class, during introductions, they always
bring up every way that modern medical practice WILL damage you and
your baby if they get the chance, (now scaring all the other students
who have already had three ultrasounds and used the doptone all
along.)  Then they proceed to go to the hospital and announce that they
took BRADLEY CLASSES, and don't you dare touch me with ANYTHING.

The vast majority of my students take my classes, learn lots, and go to
the hospital appropriately assertive and get along just fine with the
hospital staff.  Their births go smoothly and everybody's just so
happy.  Unfortunately, the staff has NO IDEA that these very nice
couples are also some of those "Radical Bradley Couples" that create so
many problems.

I figure that with really radical couples, the best I can do is try to
convince them that they'll get more flies with honey and that NO ONE at
the hospital is out to deliberately harm them or their baby.  If I can
convince them that sometimes, having the baby monitored a little is a
GOOD THING, then I think I've done they and their baby a favor.

When the medical people I do inservices for complain about "abrasive,
defensive" bradley students, I remind them that they were that way long
before they got to my classes.  (Gee, the underlying assumption here is
that Bradley teachers can take nice mousy people and turn them into
abrasive argumentative parents.  Sure gives us alot of power here,
huh?)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have had one "Lamaze" baby and 3 "Bradley" babies.  I had a paracervical
with birth #1, though I resisted it to the end; the other three babies
were totally natural, and very fulfilling.  The reason I switched: I found
out during my first birth that my body's natural inclinations were to do
what I had read about Bradley--- deep breathing, tuning inside----rather
than the externally based Lamaze, which seeks to distract the mother with
outside focal points and different patterns of breathing.  What I got most
out of Bradley was a *confidence* in my body's ability to give
birth---without drugs---successfully.  I withdrew into myself as the labor
progressed, and concentrated on letting go and opening up, cooperating
with the process, allowing it to happen.....   I also was able to
communicate to my caregivers and support people when I needed more privacy
in order for all of this to happen. Bradley empowers parents to take
responsibility for their births, rather than hand all of that
responsibility over to a physician. 

Nowadays, taking responsibility is probably the ONLY way you can achieve a
natural childbirth. Most Lamaze classes (but not all) are hospital
sponsored and teach what I call "prepared hospital birth".  I myself teach
other prenatal classes for a local hospital, and I have sat in meetings
where the content of "Lamaze" classes was altered to suit physician
preferences, such as the "inconvenience" of squatting delivery. The
changes were not for the good of the patient, but for the local doctor's
preferences!  Patients are to be encouraged to be cooperative, not
assertive as to their needs and preferences.  I realize that there are
probably still a few good Lamaze classes out there......  but only Bradley
is a "standardized" product that serves parents, not the medical
establishment.  :-)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
We took classes in the Bradley Method.  Many respondents to my post
suggested that we not hold too strongly to one particular model of
birth (i.e. no drugs).  This was good advice, as my wife discovered
for the first time just how painful contractions can be (and she's no
wimp -- she once took only Tylenol as her appendix was rupturing).
She had a shot of Nubain with about 4 hours to go.  The contractions
were just as painful, but it allowed her to relax completely between
contractions and gather her strength for the pushing (about 2 hours
later).  I found that I did not give a damn about not following
Bradley in this regard.

On the other hand, we were glad to have so much preparation and
knowledge about the range of normality/pathology in birth.  It allowed
us to confidently refuse the OB's suggestion of immediate induction
when we arrived at the hospital (there was meconium staining in the
amniotic fluid -- we had come to the hospital to check it out).  In
fact, labor started spontaneously about 2 hours later.

Also, Bradley's practice of deliberate, concentrated relaxation was 
useful throughout the pregnancy and birth.  And good nutrition can
never be stressed enough.

Birth Plans 
------------------------- 
Our birth plan was useful only to the extent that we had to become
educated in order to write one.  It never came out of the bag, and
besides, we neglected to write "we will have thick meconium staining"
in it :-).
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm writing from the postpartum room. My wife is 5 feet away. She's
recuperating from a section and holding our wonderful son. After a
long, partially prodromal, difficult labor that ran from 2:30 Thursday
afternoon to 10:00 Sunday morning (with a 6 hour period of weak,
irregular contractions on Friday) we agreed with our midwife that it
was time to have a section. Nick was 11 pounds, 6 ounces, and had a 38
cm head circumference.

We are agreed that the money we spent on Bradley classes was the best
investment we made during the pregnancy. We worked with (and
occasionally argued with) the hospital staff from 5 am Saturday until 8
am Sunday, got numerous comments from the nursing staff about how well
we worked together, managed labor without medication until about 3 am
Sunday, and made our decisions *together*. Terri tells me how much
harder it was to manage the pain when I needed a break and left her
with a nurse. We feel no misgivings about the section; when we made
that decision, we felt that we'd given natural labor every chance and
that it was the right choice for the health of Terri and the baby.

Our Bradley classes prepared me to deal with Terri in pain, us to work
together to deal with the pain, us to work with the hospital staff as
informed patients and to determine our own course of care, us to
recognize important events in the labor, and us to make important and
difficult decisions. I would recommend Bradley to anyone who wants to
be an active team in childbirth.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm writing from the postpartum room. My wife is 5 feet away. She's
recuperating from a section and holding our wonderful son. After a
long, partially prodromal, difficult labor that ran from 2:30 Thursday
afternoon to 10:00 Sunday morning (with a 6 hour period of weak,
irregular contractions on Friday) we agreed with our midwife that it
was time to have a section. Nick was 11 pounds, 6 ounces, and had a 38
cm head circumference.

We are agreed that the money we spent on Bradley classes was the best
investment we made during the pregnancy. We worked with (and
occasionally argued with) the hospital staff from 5 am Saturday until 8
am Sunday, got numerous comments from the nursing staff about how well
we worked together, managed labor without medication until about 3 am
Sunday, and made our decisions *together*. Terri tells me how much
harder it was to manage the pain when I needed a break and left her
with a nurse. We feel no misgivings about the section; when we made
that decision, we felt that we'd given natural labor every chance and
that it was the right choice for the health of Terri and the baby.

Our Bradley classes prepared me to deal with Terri in pain, us to work
together to deal with the pain, us to work with the hospital staff as
informed patients and to determine our own course of care, us to
recognize important events in the labor, and us to make important and
difficult decisions. I would recommend Bradley to anyone who wants to
be an active team in childbirth.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
My husband and I took Bradley classes at the urging of his childhood
best friend and his wife (who happens to be a Bradley instructor). We
were very happy with the class and felt that our instructor was very
reasonable and presented a balanced view of the childbirth process and
solid information about various options.

Our instructor taught mostly hospital couples and had all three of her
children in hospitals.

Our teacher was not anti-drug. She taught us that you have to weigh all
of the options and make educated decisions rather than just turn your
fate over to the Dr. and hospital staff.

My only negative thought about Bradley...I fear it biased the hospital
staff against us (which was very Lamaze-oriented) and I wish it had
covered more of what to do when breastfeeding does not go according to
plan.

I went into labor knowing I could do it without drugs (women in my
family have short and uncomplicated labors and births as a rule).  I
ended up having an epidural after 30 hours of labor when I stalled at 8
and was on pitocin for the second time. Because the baby was so low and
my contractions so strong, I could not quit pushing and was causing my
cervix to swell. Because of the excellent training I had with my
Bradley instructor, I knew at that point that I was going to have an
epidural and a vaginal birth or an epidural and a C-section.

After the epidural, I rested, dilated the rest of the way, and then
pushed for 3 hours. 36 hours after my water broke and I had my first
contraction, I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy.

When I went to my Bradley class reunion, no one made me feel like a
failure for not doing it naturally. Actually, they expressed a lot of
admiration for my effort to do it naturally under less- than-ideal
circumstances and throughout such a prolonged labor.

If I had it to do again, I would take Bradley classes again and would
try once again to do it naturally.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you are interested in natural childbirth, but cannot find Bradley
classes near you, or feel that Bradley isn't what you want, try the
following resources to help you find a class:

Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth and Parenting (Now called ALACE) is
Rahima Baldwin's organization.  She did the video Special Delivery.
They certify childbirth teachers and childbirth assistants.  Their
address and phone:  P. O. Box 3675, Ann Arbor, MI  48106;
313-662-6857.  The classes were originally designed, I think, for
couples planning a homebirth, and really stressed the responsibility
and decision making involved in planning for birth.  They are also
appropriate for couples planning a hospital birth.

ICAN - International Cesarean Awareness Network:  Address: P. O. Box
152, Syracuse, NY  13210; 315-424-1942 or 800-695-4276.  These classes
are appropriate for first time parents or repeat pregnancies, not just
for those planning VBAC. (That's Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)
The Childbirth classes are called "BirthWorks".

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