Friday, December 19, 2014

Bradley Method classes- My Review

My midwifery practice requires that couples attend childbirth classes. I had read a bunch about the natural childbirth techniques out there and decided that Bradley Method sounded like it aligned with my preferences.

Background: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, also referred "Husband-Coached Childbirth" was developed in the 1960's by an obstetrician, Dr. Robert A. Bradley. He wasn't a fan of how women were treated during childbirth, since he began practicing at a time when women were given all sorts of drugs during childbirth. He developed some ideas by doing trials with patients and wrote a book. It expanded from there, with classes and a certification process for instructors. The "husband-coached" part is because Bradley felt uncomfortable being the person who was thanked for delivering a child and supporting a woman during birth- he wanted husbands to be actively involved.

His book, "Husband-Coached Childbirth," is ridiculous. I read the original (1960's) version and really, although the summary of all his writing is that women are powerful and capable of giving birth, the book itself is so outdated. He still seems to view women as silly gooses who need to be overseen by their husbands. I don't know if the more recent editions of the book have updated that language, but I have to hope they have!

Classes: Our classes spanned 10 weeks. There's technically 12 weeks of content in the course, but our instructor condensed it a little, but I never felt rushed. Our instructor was a mother of 3, with 2 of her children being homebirths. Awesome! There were 2 other couples in the class. One was planning a homebirth and the other was planning a hospital birth. Unfortunately, this meant that some of the Bradley stuff that was very anti-intervention felt like it was pointed at the one couple who was going for the hospital birth. I felt bad for them.

Class subjects include pregnancy exercises, nutrition, stages of labor, relaxation techniques, breastfeeding, and a lot more. I learned so, so much. I went in feeling like unmedicated homebirth was something I'd like to do, and I left feeling like it was something I absolutely CAN do. The class was incredibly informative and empowering. Nick also learned a lot and thought the class was very valuable. We really didn't know much about labor and what's actually happening to the uterus during labor, so just learning the mechanics of the whole thing, and watching a lot of birth videos, was so helpful.

The class also talks a lot about how to avoid interventions during hospital births. While this doesn't apply to our situation, it is applicable to all medial interventions. Asking "why" and looking into other options is not something I do well. I trust medical professionals to be doing what's best for me, and this class made me think that I need to be my own advocate and not just blindly do what I'm told. Example: my hematologist told me not long ago that I'd just be anemic the rest of the life. I sort of accepted that. Maybe I shouldn't have.

In summary, the Bradley Method classes made me excited for birth! I am not fearful, I am looking forward to bringing our little one into our lives by letting my body do what it is designed to do. I can't wait! (~65 days and then we're PARENTS. o.m.g.) I'll definitely update after the birth with how I think Bradley Method helped me get through birth. 

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