Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Bradley Method

On monday night, we had our first birthing class.  We have decided to learn the Bradley Method of childbirth, a childbirthing technique that revolves around drug-free labors and husband/partner-based labor support.  This practice, created by Robert A. Bradley after his extensive research in the 1950s, has an 86% rate of unmedicated vaginal births.  Dr. Bradley grew up on a farm and witnessed many animals give birth there.  He closely observed the ways in which they moved, went into themselves, and dealt with pain and realized that humans had this same innate ability.  This is what fueled his desire to become and obstetrician.  Through careful study, he realized that humans differ from other animals in the sense that we possess a fair amount of intellect which, while it serves us in so many situations in the world, can often get in the way of our parasympathetic nervous systems when we are trying to perform bodily functions such as childbirth.  So Dr. Bradley developed tools to help couples navigate this intellect and connect with their physiology to combat pain.  With the help of the laboring woman's partner, she is better able to make decisions about labor, pain medication, and birthing positions all in the midst of the challenges of that pain.  Jack and I were interested in this approach and decided that we wanted to learn the method.  It takes 12 weeks to become Bradley trained and it's a very proactive course.  In addition to my being banned from any more couch sitting (I'm supposed to sit on a core stability ball), Jack and I have been given a series of exercises which we are to perform together daily, including squatting, inner and outer thigh work, pelvic rocks, and relaxation techniques involving Jack talking me out of tension.  What this is doing is teaching us how we can work together in stressful situations and is giving us the tools we need to take on labor TOGETHER.  After all, we are both giving birth; it is a collective, altruistic process.  Unlike a lot of Bradley teachers, ours is not only focused on NO DRUGS NO DRUGS!  She also teaches us the affects of drugs on both pain and the baby and which ones are the safest to use, should we choose them.  She will also be briefing us on cesarean sections, when they are  necessary, and why they are so good in emergencies.  We like this approach because I think it is a bit dangerous to go into this without preparing for every case scenario.  Nonetheless, we are happy to have chosen this method and look forward to the next 11 weeks.  We'll let you know how it goes in July!

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