The Bradley method of childbirth is the method that emphasizes mainly the techniques of relaxation as a major part of childbirth and also empowers women to have confidence in their strength. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports state that about 61% of women who opt for vaginal delivery seek the assistance of epidural or anesthesia while in labor (1). In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends using an epidural for expectant mothers upon request. Read on to know more about the Bradley method and its benefits.
What Is The Bradley Method Of Childbirth?
It is a natural childbirth method designed in the late 1940s, by the American obstetrician Dr. Robert Bradley. The Bradley method aims to encourage women to go into labor and deliver the child without taking any pain medications. It seeks to offer natural, painless, and pleasurable birthing experience to expecting moms.
Bradley’s method is a 12-week program that tells the expecting couple about diet, nutrition, relaxation techniques, labor, postpartum experiences, nursing, and the husband’s role.
This method is also known as ‘husband-coached childbirth’, as the husband plays a key role in helping the wife with postures and breathing techniques to manage pain during labor.
And this elaborate preparation needs to begin way before your due date.
When Can You Attend The Classes?
You can start attending classes from the fifth month of pregnancy so that you have enough time to practice labor techniques. It is a 12-week course.
Usually, the Bradley institute instructors conduct the classes at your home, so that you are comfortable enough to ask queries if any.
What Is Taught In Bradley Childbirth Classes?
The Bradley’s method emphasizes the natural birthing experience, but it also prepares the couple for unexpected complications and emergencies that might require a C-section.
Here is a brief overview of the 12-class course (2):
- Classes 1-3 focus on nutrition, exercise, and pregnancy. The Bradley Method follows Dr. Brewer’s diet. These sessions also teach you kegel exercises, tailor sitting, squatting, and pelvic rocks, which help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and get the baby into the right position.
- Classes 4-5 focus on the role of the coach (husband) and introduce the parents-to-be to the first stage of labor. This session helps you adapt to new habits and attitudes, understand the process, and apply what you have learned.
- Class 6 introduces to the second stage of labor.
- In class 7, the couple makes a birth plan not exceeding 15 pages.
- Class 8 prepares you for unexpected situations during delivery and also focuses on the postpartum preparations.
- Classes 9-10 teach about the pain management techniques for the first and second stages of labor.
- Class 11 teaches the husband how to be a good coach. The couple is asked to rehearse and practice all the techniques they have learned.
- Class 12, which is an optional session, covers topics on breastfeeding, care for the newborn, and your role as a parent.
Above all, the course aims to teach you techniques that ease the labor pain by relaxing the body.
Relaxation Methods Taught In Bradley Classes
Here are a few relaxation techniques of the Bradley Method you can practice at home.
- Sleep imitation is one of the best relaxation techniques to practice during the first stage of labor when the pain is frequent. Begin by resting on a bed with your eyes closed and face relaxed. Slowly start breathing, consciously, with your belly. This helps you relax and sleep. If you are able to sleep during the early contractions, you will have enough energy to prepare for the next stages of labor.
- The breathing technique taught in the Bradley method helps you to focus on counting the breaths. Also, the length of the breath you exhale should be longer than the length of the breath you inhale. This helps you deal with labor pain better.
- Creating a pleasant ambiance in the room: A quiet room with diffused lighting and soft music creates a recreational environment, which works well for you during the first stage of labor. Combined with the controlled breathing technique, a relaxing ambiance can help you deal with the labor pain effectively.
Besides these, you may also learn other relaxation techniques, some of which may work for you and some may not. The aim is to find the one that best helps you deal with the pain.
So, how good or bad is Bradley’s method? Let’s see next.
The Benefits Of Bradley’s Method
Here are some good things the method has for the mothers (3):
- Teaches a woman how to relax during labor and childbirth.
- Explains about the complications that may occur during pregnancy. Informs about the risks of using medications or drugs during labor and the necessity of a c-section during delivery.
- Also focuses on nutrition during pregnancy, while teaching the mom how to stay healthy and minimize the risk of complications in pregnancy.
- Emphasizes on partner or coach’s support during labor and delivery.
- Helps develop a great bond between the mother and the baby.
The only disadvantage of this method is that it appears to be biased towards cesarean deliveries as it promotes physiological birth This can make some women reluctant to opt for the procedure even in the case of a medical emergency.
The Bradley method is a 12-week program that encourages women to deliver a baby without pain medications. This program educates the women on the appropriate diet and relaxation techniques to follow, labor and postpartum experiences, and the husband’s part in this process. An optional session also covers nursing and how to care for a newborn. Some benefits of the Bradley method are that it teaches useful relaxation methods and informs expectant mothers about some complications that may occur in pregnancy. However, we recommend consulting your doctor before you enroll in this program.