I delivered four babies using the Bradley method of childbirth and found the husband coaching practice simple and encouraging.
If you’ve never looked into or thought about natural childbirth then this is just an intro to the Bradley method.
There are many ways to skin a cat, but this is what I know and love. Dr. Bradley grew up on a farm and first had the thought that childbirth isn’t such a big deal (as in, it is common and everyday) when he saw how various animals did it.
His reasoning was that if animals could do it so easily and without much intervention then so could men.
I liked this part:
Dr. Bradley Wanted Husbands To Be The Hero
After delivering babies for a number of years he was struck by the fact that the women thanked him profusely and called him their hero after a safe delivery.
The husbands stood by while the wife said “I love you” and all manner of complimentary things and he felt strange.
Soon he developed the Husband-Coached Childbirth technique, as it’s called, where the husband is actually the one taking charge and the doctor is there to catch the baby and intervene if complications arise.
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The Bradley Method Basics – Husband Coached Childbirth
(1) Every woman in labor needs a coach
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know jack about what’s going on when I’m in labor. Don’t touch me and don’t talk to me (unless you’re telling me it’s almost over).
The Bradley method has the husband (or another person where the husband is unable or unwilling to participate) who acts as the coach during labor and delivery.
What does a coach do?
He tells the player what’s happening, the stats, what they need to do to win the game, if they should steal or stay where they are, calls the plays, etc. In theory, the labor coach is in reality, is not in pain and has a firm grasp of the goal.
The woman in labor is in another reality, is in a lot of pain and has a hard time seeing through the current moment towards the goal. Women need a helper.
Dr. Bradley thought a doctor shouldn’t usurp this great role of the helper so his method calls for the husband to do so.
(2) Women should prepare physically for the labor and delivery
The book Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way has 3 or 4 daily stretches and exercises that are to help labor and delivery go as smooth and quickly as possible while minimizing the possibility of tearing.
The exercises aren’t strenuous nor are they difficult, but you must be consistent. These exercises work out the muscles so they are in good shape to push and so you aren’t too physically uncomfortable (hardy har har) during labor.
Some of the Bradley exercises are the following:
- Kegel exercises (the book shares the exact way to do this)
(3) Women should prepare mentally for labor
Half the battle through the pain is knowing it’s actually a good thing.
When you feel a contraction and think “Ahh my body is ripping apart surely something is horribly wrong and I’m having an alien not a baby and I am going to die” then you will probably find it a tad difficult to relax.
Mood lighting or not.
If you have a contraction and know what is happening physically, you understand that it is a great thing your body is doing and it’s putting you one step closer towards the goal:
not being pregnant anymore having a baby.
(4) Knowledge about the birth process prevents fear and panic
When you purchase the book Husband-Coached Childbirth, it tells you exactly what happens physically during contractions and pushing. Knowledge is awesome!
Depending on what is happening, the doctors may try to intervene, condescend to you more and you’ll feel more panicked if you don’t know what’s going on.
Step by step the book outlines what happens so you are able to visualize it mentally and get in tune with your body instead of fighting it. If you feel that a contraction is actually harmful as opposed to helpful you’ll react differently.
(5) The Bradley method gives you the tools to stick to your birth plan
A great many doctors that I’ve heard of, in the States at least, aren’t terribly supportive of natural childbirth. Or rather, they are more confident in the traditional birthing practices and may try to sway you towards those.
Certainly not all obstetricians, but many I have heard of, are still quick to intervene, induce labor and resort to a c-section without it being strictly necessary.
Drugs, medicine and c-sections are medical miracles that save countless lives so I do not discount them. However, when they are pushed on me for no good reason I do mind.
Benefits of a Birth Coach
If you are truly wanting to do a natural childbirth you may find your husband, or the coach, has to run interference and put the doctor off your case so your natural childbirth goals aren’t thwarted.
I’m not talking about doing something in the best interest of your baby, I’m talking about the doctors and nurses speeding things up so they can beat rush hour or avoid working on weekends.
I’ve had 4 babies naturally and two I screamed for drugs and one I was very composed.
Also, I’ve used midwives (plural) and a doctor. I’ve given birth on 3 continents.
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I’m no expert but I am experienced and I love the Bradley method. If you are thinking about natural childbirth, then I recommend at least reading about it.