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December 01, 2011

Bradley Birth Classes

As I mentioned the other day, we are planning to birth at a birth center. For this reason, we took a Bradley Birth class. "The Bradley Method of natural childbirth (also known as "husband-coached childbirth") is a method of natural childbirth developed in 1947 by Robert A. Bradley, M.D. (1917–1998) and popularized by his book Husband-Coached Childbirth, first published in 1965. The Bradley Method emphasizes that birth is a natural process: mothers are encouraged to trust their body and focus on diet and exercise throughout pregnancy; and it teaches couples to manage labor through deep breathing and the support of a partner or labor coach." (Source: Wikipedia)

The class is a series that has lasted weekly since the end of September until last night's class. And i would HIGHLY recommend the class to anybody who is going to be having a baby. Regardless of if you intend to do this with or without interventions, at home/birth center/hospital - the class has greatly prepared us in the sense that we now know what to expect physically. I don't mean i'm prepared for the emotion, feelings, pressure/pain, or the experience - but from a completely scientific stand point, I have learned about the phases of labor and the various things my body may do and how my body may react. Also, a great thing is that I now know some techniques to help cope through these phases. If/When I poop myself (sorry to be so graphic), I NOW know that this is a great sign that the baby is descending and about to make his/her way out!

For that reason, even if you are counting on your Doctors/Nurses and pain medication to get you through this, it is a good idea to be mentally prepared since when the time comes, you may or may not have the greatest staff on hand who want to keep you informed on what they are doing as they are doing it. And as much as I respect Doctors and Nurses, if i don't know you - I have no reason to trust you and during my most vulnerable moment, I don't want to be dealing with that on top of these new experiences my body is going through.

So we finished our classes yesterday. It was a lot of commitment and we missed one class due to me having a cold, but I'm so proud of my Husband for diligently attending with very little complaint. Of all the dad-to-be's that were there, I think only one was as gung-ho about it as the women, which i think is understandable. But because Bradley encourages Husband-coached childbirth, the coach needs to be there. The Husband who is easily grossed out (super easily), actually watched many birthing videos (eyes wide open). The class helped us create a dialoge to discuss expectations. But now... our Wednesday nights are free again!!!

I just wanted to share a few things about last night's class. It was the reunion class where previous Bradley students come back and share their birth stories.  I won't go into specifics, but i'll tell you what I took away from these various stories: all very different - some good, some bad - all great outcomes!
  • Be your own advocate. Whereever you are, advocate yourself and have your Husband advocate for you. 2 hospital stories talk about how the nurses/residence on shift were threatening ("if you don't stop moving around, we'll have to put an internal monitor on the baby (screwing a monitor into baby's skull)") and straight lying ("you need to stop moving around because the cord will fall out of you"). Both instances - NOT COOL! Movement is necessary to accelerate labor and lies are just UNNECESSARY!
  • Trust your body! Ina May Gaskins talks about a connection between brain and body. If you have a fear or doubt, it needs to be attended to b/c that CAN stall labor. One story talks just about the stalling of labor b/c the mom did not want it to move along. You are very connected!
  • Ask Questions! Whether its "what are you doing?" or "what are my options?" it is always good to ask questions. One mom said she was told to take her baby to the other side of the hospital for a hearing test...AFTER she just had a necessary c-section. She said no. The nurse said "then i'll take the baby on my own." She said "NO!" So then the nurse said "ok, i'll just send someone to your room to do it here!" Had the nurse given her that option in the first place, it would have been easy peasy. From this experience, she continued to ask about her options whenever the nurses came in to do something and thus, was able to have a more comfortable stay.
  • Be Confident! After this class, we are all pretty well informed. So both the Husband and I need to be confident. This confidence needs to be carried over if/when something is happening against our wishes. (i.e., if they want to take the baby elsewhere for any reason, Husband will just say "I am going with the baby" confidently. A simple statement but it carries so much weight and we would both be happier always having the baby in sight)
  • Be Empowered! This is our experience together and its empowering. Don't let someone else belittle the experience or you. One story was about how a nurse just made the mom feel so small and embarassed, as if her body wasn't doing something right.
  • Surround yourself with people you trust! As a first time mom, I anticipate I will need guidance. It is important that those around me who are advising me are people whom I trust. My husband will coach me through this - encouraging me and supporting me. The midwife and doula will attend and their experiences from births past will provide invaluable in helping me stay as comfortable as i can and manage my pain. It is important that you trust the people around you to guide you along this journey.
  • It's a marathon not a race! During the early phases of labor, its important to not exhaust yourself. Eat, Drink, Sleep and rest. Counting contractions is good, but obsessing is bad. Early phase of labor can last for days, so its important to not wear yourself out during this phase, b/c the next part is much harder!
  • Stay flexible! A birth plan is great to let your provider know what you are hoping for, but stay open minded and flexible. The ultimate goal - healthy baby and healthy mom!
Overall, the class was great and ending with this reunion class was nice. It was great to hear real life birth stories - the good and the bad. It was also nice to be reminded that this idea of an "ideal" birth is not the goal. The goal is to feel empowered (this can happen in any setting) and end up with a healthy baby and a healthy mom!

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