Labor and delivery is something most first-time moms are anxious about. Childbirth classes offer a variety of methods to help women go into labor with confidence. The Bradley Method® is a 12-week class series that emphasizes partner-coached, natural childbirth.
The course is designed to educate expecting parents on multiple components of pregnancy, unmedicated labor, birth, and postpartum. This is just one of many class options for women who are hoping for an unmedicated birth experience by helping you relax and breathe through labor with the support of your partner.
What Is The Bradley Method?
The Bradley Method uses a variety of elements to create a calm and relaxing birth environment, in addition to helping women physically prepare for labor through breathing and physical exercise. A key aspect of The Bradley Method is a spouse or partner who attends Bradley classes with you and serves as your birth coach throughout labor and delivery.
This method is all about educating yourself and building confidence throughout your third trimester. Like anything else, practice is a great way to feel prepared. That’s why The Bradley Method offers practice and rehearsals from the very first class, so that both you and your partner feel more confident going into the real thing. Other elements, like nutrition, relaxation, and coaching, help to create a calm and healthy environment for a natural birth.
Whether you prefer a home birth, birthing center, or hospital, here are a few key components of The Bradley Method childbirth experience:
- A Peaceful Environment – Think dim lighting and calming music. Even if you choose to deliver in a hospital room, it’s important to create a space that makes you feel calm and at home. The Bradley Method recommends limiting the number of people in your delivery room to reduce distractions or additional stress.
- Comfort is Key – As your birth coach, one of your partner’s main responsibilities is to keep you calm and comfortable. This could mean wearing your coziest socks or making sure you’re in a position that makes you comfortable. Your partner/coach is there to provide everything your need throughout labor to be comfortable and calm.
- Familiarity and Safety – Feeling safe and familiar with your delivery location is essential to staying relaxed. Choose a birthplace and delivery team that makes you feel like you and your baby are in the safest hands. Tour your birthplace beforehand to make sure you’re familiar with the facility and staff.
- Relaxation – The Bradley Method will teach you how to physically and mentally relax through techniques that you will practice every week leading up to birth. Relaxation can not only aid in the natural labor process, it can also help to manage pain throughout delivery.
- Controlled Breathing – While some birthing methods focus on breathing techniques to distract you from labor, The Bradley Method encourages natural, but deep breathing similar to sleep breathing. This controlled breathing helps you to calmly turn inward and tune into your body during labor and delivery.
What Is Included in The Bradley Method Classes?
The Bradley Method typically includes 12 weekly classes of instruction for you and your partner with review sessions up until you give birth. The preparation course includes the following 12 units:
- Introduction to The Bradley Method
- Nutrition in Pregnancy
- The Coach’s Role
- Introduction to First Stage Labor
- Introduction to Second Stage Labor
- Planning Your Birth
- Variations and Complications/Postpartum Preparation
- Advanced First Stage Techniques
- Advanced Second Stage Techniques
- Being a Great Coach/Are You Ready?
- Preparing for Your New Family
From the final stages of pregnancy to early parenting, The Bradley Method classes teach both you and your partner prenatal nutrition and exercise, relaxation techniques for easier birth, and parenting skills. Your partner will learn coaching techniques to help you manage stress throughout labor and birth, and you will learn breathing and relaxation techniques to aid your body in an unmedicated birth.
While mental and emotional preparation is key, childbirth is physically demanding. With The Bradley Method, you will receive a student workbook with a variety of physical exercises and stretches to help you prepare for delivery throughout your third trimester. The Bradley Method also encourages regular stamina exercises such as walking or swimming, to help you train for the physical demands of giving birth.
Throughout the course, you will develop a birth plan with your partner, including birthplace, procedures, attendants, and an emergency back-up plan. Your instructor will advise you on how to be an intelligent consumer of obstetric services, emphasizing positive communication with the birth attendants. You will also cover how to handle unexpected situations such as emergency childbirth or cesarean section. Not every birth goes according to plan, and that’s okay. It’s important to be flexible, but having a birth plan in place gives clear direction to you, your partner, and your medical team should an unexpected complication arise.
To find a Bradley Method instructor near you, visit their directory. At Walnut Hill OBGYN, we provide the best care for Dallas moms to be, from prenatal to postpartum. To meet with one of our doctors about growing your family, give us a call today.