Understanding the Bradley Method of Childbirth
Dr. Bradley's Background
Dr. Robert A. Bradley was quite an unusual obstetrician. Growing up on a farm, he saw first hand how animals gave birth to their young. After watching so many quiet, natural childbirths, he came to the conclusion that nature was not something that needed to be fought, and that women should be able to give birth using their natural instincts, rather than being medicated. While working at the Minnesota University Hospital beginning in 1947, Bradley was an outspoken proponent of having men in the delivery room. His many radical ideas earned him both praise and criticism, but his methods have been accepted far more today than they were in his time.
In 1970, he co-founded the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth, an organization that provides both education and instructor training in unmedicated childbirth method. All Bradley instructors are trained in his methodology and are experts in the field of childbirth education. He personally helped to deliver 22,000 healthy babies and his childbirth techniques have aided over a half million couples to have natural births.
So, what was Bradley's secret? Bradley believed that women could be trained to work with their bodies, rather than against their bodies, during labor. To date, of the 200,000 women (and their husbands) trained in the Bradley Method, their statistics show that over 86% of them have had natural, vaginal deliveries. Today, couples who are interested in learning the Bradley Method sign up for a 12 week Bradley course taught by a certified instructor. Each couple receives a 125 page Student Workbook which contains the class curriculum, study guides, and information on pregnancy, birth, doulas, etc. The workbook leads the group through the 12 week course, ensuring that all courses are taught in a similar style and with the same curriculum.
Extra Essentials in the Bradley Classes
In addition to the standard curriculum, the Bradley Method ensures small classes and a lot of practice time. Classes average 6-8 couples so that the instructor can get to know each couple and their needs, and so that each couple can receive individualized attention. These classes are not based on theories - but on practice. Couples are asked to participate in many exercises and activities in the course of the twelve weeks and to be active participants.
The Bradley Method relies heavily on the coach or doula. While the coach is generally the husband, it certainly doesn't need to be. The coach is required to attend all 12 classes with the mother, and to be trained in ways to help during the delivery. The coach learns how to be a supportive and active player during the delivery, how to advocate for the mother, and how to help the mother to experience a painless childbirth. During the class time, there is a great deal of relaxation practice and labor rehearsal.
The Bradley Method is one of many on the market today. It aims to aid women in achieving a birthing experience without medication and tremendous pain- lofty goals that they seem to be achieving one delivery at a time.