Bradley Method Exercises - Natural Childbirth

The Bradley method is a set of techniques women can use during labor to promote natural childbirth (namely, childbirth that takes place without medical intervention or pain killing medications). It's also known as "husband-coached childbirth," but of course, you don't necessarily have to have a husband for it to be effective, just a willing and 100% dedicated partner who respects and understands your birth preferences. The Bradley method was developed by Dr. Robert A. Bradley and first became popular when his book on the subject was published in 1965. Promoters of the Bradley method claim that 86% of couples who correctly follow the 12-session Bradley method course have spontaneous, vaginal births, without any drugs.

Bradley Method Versus Lamaze Method

The Bradley birthing technique and the Lamaze method both seek to prepare couples for easier childbirth and give them the tools they need for as a natural and safe a birth experience as possible. Both methods seek to empower women in labor to make their own decisions about how they want to give birth. Whereas the Bradley method from the very outset states that the aim of its 12-week course is to enable women to give birth vaginally and without any pain killing drugs or surgical intervention, the Lamaze method takes a more open-minded approach to medication and surgery, and states that a woman should have the right to choose.

What Is The Bradley Method?

The techniques involved in the Bradley method are based on what a Bradley instructor will refer to in class as the "six needs of laboring women." These involve deep relaxation, sometimes solitude, methods of distracting the woman from the pain she feels, and experimenting with different labor positions. Couples are taught a number of different relaxation techniques and are encouraged to rehearse them every day. The idea is that at the moment when labor begins, a woman should already be very used to becoming relaxed at the sound of her birth partner's voice, and following the direction he or she gives her - this is known as the Bradley effect. The method relies a lot on the birth partner's ability to keep cool and remain in control of the situation.

Bradley Method Exercises

The Bradley method exercises taught during the course include breathing techniques for natural pain management as well as techniques similar to those of "hypnobirthing." Namely, the pregnant woman and her partner will learn how to develop imaginary scenarios (such as lying on a beach) and focusing mentally on all the elements of those scenarios (the texture of the sand, the noise of the waves, etc.). This helps to take the woman's attention away from her discomfort. Whereas the Bradley method is very much team-focused, hypnobirthing is more of an independent technique employed by the laboring woman only.

In addition to the Bradley method exercises, a couple also learns about pregnancy health and nutrition, and how to become knowledgeable users of birth services in hospitals - with the confidence to communicate their needs to medical staff.

Finding A Bradley Method Class

If you do a quick internet search you'll find the official Bradley method website. This site allows you to request information packages and find qualified Bradley method instructors in your area. If you can't attend a class in person or if you just want to find out more about the method before committing (the course costs money after all) you could purchase the original Bradley method book by Dr. Bradley himself. It's available to order online via Amazon and can probably be found in any reasonably well-stocked bookstore with a pregnancy and childbirth section. There is no official Bradley method DVD, although sometimes instructors will lend you DVDs after you join and pay for a course. For additional information, you could check out some of the (unofficial) Bradley method videos that have been uploaded to video-sharing sites such as You Tube. Some of these videos feature women who have actually tried the method out.

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