The Bradley Method
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mom, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But I never really thought about being pregnant, and the most I thought about labor was “oh hell yeah, sign me up for the epidural please.” And I still didn’t give much thought to the labor until a few months into the pregnancy. I always had the end result in mind- the baby. I thought A LOT about the baby, like most expecting parents do. What kind of parent I’d be, what we needed for the house, how our life would change, all of this and more raced through my head 24/7.
At what point my focus shifted to the delivery, I don’t know. I can’t remember if it was a conscious decision, or something somebody said, but I realized that I really have no idea what I’m in for. So I signed us up for these classes that I had heard so much about, but I didn’t really research them. We were late on getting started and that made me anxious and feeling like a bad mom, so I decided to do some reading before the classes began.
I went to the library and got the first book that really introduced me to the Bradley Method: Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth. The book is titled “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon. Just a heads up, if you ever decide to read it, some of it seems a little outdated, and the beginning even seems a little hostile, but it gets much better at chapter 7. And yes, you read that right. Natural Childbirth. No epidural, no pain medication, no Pitocin, no episiotomy, no vacuum or foreceps. All natural baby.
When we went to our first Bradley class, I had not gotten to chapter 7 yet, so I was still a little unsure about this method. But that first class really got me intrigued and by class three I was actually excited about the labor. It was no longer just an event that had to happen so I could hold my baby boy in my arms, but it was part of the experience. Dr. Bradley compares the pregnant woman to an athlete, getting ready for the big game (the birth), and I can honestly say that’s how I feel. I’m doing everything in my power to make sure that I am ready for my “big event.” Whether it be exercises, eating right, or practicing relaxation methods, I want to be prepared. I’m anxious about the labor- but only because I want to see how well I’ll do. I don’t want to let myself down. I feel exactly the way I used to before a big soccer game: really wanting to prove that all my hard work will pay off and I can do this!
Most of you probably don’t know a lot about the Bradley method; it focuses on relaxation during labor, with a lot of coaching from the husband. His job is to do everything except literally push the baby out. He’s to deal with the birthing team, the family, the atmosphere, and the nutrition and exercises during pregnancy. It may not seem like much, but a lot rests on the husband’s shoulders. For instance, when the doctor starts pushing the pain meds during the self-doubt phase of labor, and an unsure woman might just give in, thinking the doctor knows best, the husband is there to reassure her that she’s doing a great job and she’s almost done. He’s there to make sure the woman is kept as relaxed as possible and works with the contractions, not against them. I know a lot of people think “what does the man know?! He’s never pushed a baby out of his body!” But that’s what the classes are for- to completely familiarize him with what’s gonna happen during labor, so he knows the stages, the signposts, the needs of the woman, the reasons why doctors suggest the things they do, etc.
Jeffry has really embraced the Bradley Method and is genuinely excited to be such a big part of our son’s birth. He has been a great coach, I couldn’t ask for better. He’s always eager to do the exercises and is very motivational. He knows that I can do this and that means a lot to me. I believe I can do this too. We shall find out in a few short weeks whether I can or not!