Review of The Bradley Method

I’ve mentioned that we were completing Bradley Method courses several times over the past few months. Our last class (party!) is Thursday, so I thought I would type up a little review of The Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth.

Our midwife, Carolyn, requires all of her clients who  are experiencing their first pregnancies to complete a first time mothers’ program. This includes attending parenting classes at her home, hiring a professional doula, paying for extra midwifery support (one or two apprentices) at the delivery, and completing either Hypnobabies or The Bradley Method courses. Having done some freelance work for a hypnotherapist in the past, I knew that Hypnobabies probably wouldn’t be helpful for us. Luckily, a Bradley course is offered in Birmingham. We signed-up with a little trepidation about spending $350.00 and sacrificing our Thursday nights for three entire months.

No matter how our birth turns out, I am absolutely positive that we will not regret completing the Bradley Method training.

Here’s why:

Fellowship

When doing something a little strange like planning to pop out a child minus the socially expected cocktail of narcotics and medical interventions (or hospital, for that matter), nothing is more comforting or reassuring than sitting in a room full of like-minded people. All week long, I (and Cody, too, I’m sure) politely respond to sarcastic remarks, ignorance, dismay, and raised eyebrows about our desire to bring forth our child via a natural, unmedicated delivery. Sitting in our Bradley classroom for two hours on Thursday nights has been a welcome refuge from skepticism and negativity. We have gotten to know six other couples who desire the same type of birth as we do, have read the same books, recognize the same myths, and are making the same plans for their babies as we are. Our Bradley Method classmates are varied in their lifestyles, ages, and careers, but all feel the same way as Cody and I do about the nature of birth and the importance of planning a child’s entrance into the world and preparing the body for delivery. All of us ladies are due within a couple of months of each other. In fact, one of our classmates was in labor during our meeting Thursday night. She successfully delivered her baby girl without medication about thirty minutes after class was over. So encouraging! We connect through email and Facebook and it will be so inspiring to see beautiful, healthy Bradley babies make their entrances in the weeks and months to come.

The Bradley Instructor: Knowledge and First-Hand Experience

Cody and I both have been very impressed with our Bradley instructor. She has a four year old, two year old, and infant, all of whom were born naturally using Bradley techniques and were successfully breastfed. Enough said. The simple fact that I have this woman’s phone number on my contacts list is the source of much comfort.

Nutrition

Cody and I are very aware of the role of nutrition in a person’s overall health. This has become even more evident since I’ve become pregnant and our midwife encouraged a high-protein, high-fat diet at my first prenatal appointment (much like the Paleo diet we were already following). The Bradley Method promotes the Brewer Diet, which is basically what I had been following per Carolyn’s suggestions. The Bradley course recognizes that proper nutrition can drastically reduce a woman’s risk level during pregnancy. Most of the nutritional information covered in the course wasn’t news to me, but it was nice to have some concepts reinforced. Frankly, none of my mamma-friends seemed to have received any nutritional counseling from their OB/GYNs or at whatever hospital-sponsored childbirth classes they attended. I start talking about protein, chugging whole milk, slathering my veggies in real butter, and staying away from excess sugar and Diet Cokes and they have no idea what I am talking about. There’s more to a pregnant lady’s diet than gaining twenty pounds or less so that your pants might zip-up two weeks postpartum.

Our particular Bradley instructor’s day job is a health and nutrition educator for one of the largest hospitals in the Birmingham area. She’s very knowledgable about traditional, whole food diets and the fallacies of modern “healthy” eating strategies.

Home Birth

We are the only couple in our Bradley class planning a home birth. Several times I have sensed tinges of jealously in my classmates as I answered their questions about our experience with midwifery care. Our instructor told us that we were her first students to be planning a home birth and seems excited about hearing how the Bradley strategies perform in an out-of-hospital setting. The course material itself does a great job at addressing issues that might be encountered both in the hospital and at a home birth. I was a little worried that much of the material wouldn’t apply to us since we were the only ones who planned to birth outside of the hospital but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the Bradley course has better prepared me and Cody to handle situations that might require us to be transferred to a hospital because we are more aware of what we might encounter there. Information is a pregnant lady’s best ally.

Husband Coached

I could talk about natural birth all day long at this point. It’s something I’ve become very passionate about because it is perhaps the most pertinent topic of conversation imaginable as I sit here thirty-six weeks pregnant and quickly approaching the delivery of my first child. Cody, on the other had, isn’t so keen on hearing or talking about vaginal exams, the horrors of transition, or the effects of epidurals on babies. Or at least he wasn’t. After sitting through nine Bradley classes (we skipped a couple) with several other husbands whose wives had drug them there and hearing all the statistics and concepts I have been chattering about repeated by a well-educated and articulate teacher, he’s more confident, informed, and truly on-board for this adventure than I ever thought he would be. I feel like Cody is better able to explain our decisions to questioning friends and family and is better able to help me make educated decisions regarding the birth of our child. As much as he hates coming straight home from work, showering, jumping in the car, and eating supper while riding down the interstate every Thursday night, I truly think he is very glad that we were required to take childbirth classes, particularly The Bradley Method course. In fact, I’ve overheard him tell several people just that. I’ll never forget him mispronouncing episiotomy during one of our first meetings and his shock when I explained to him what the procedure entailed. Ladies, your husbands need to know what an episiotomy is. And, believe it or not, they probably don’t. No one can be a better advocate for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your child than your well-informed, well-trained “coach.”

 

Obviously, the Bradley Courses are geared towards couples who are committed to achieving a natural delivery because they feel it is the best way to bring their baby into the world. However, I honestly feel like any expecting couple, regardless of if they plan to give birth in their back yard or under general anesthesia, could benefit greatly from completing this childbirth course. The information taught will help you stay low-risk, take ownership of your birth experience, learn how different procedures affect your baby so that you can make informed decisions, help you care for your own body during pregnancy and postpartum, and strengthen your relationship with your spouse during one of the most volatile periods in a marriage. It saddens me that so many of my friends and family members who are already parents were never given the information that we have received through the Bradley Method courses. It’s truly a game changer. I cannot recommend the program highly enough.

Visit www.BradleyBirth.com to find a course offering near you.

Summer Showers

In the midst of this unusually rainy summer, we’ve been twice showered by sweet family and friends with baby paraphernalia for Michael Ryan. Baby showers are a wonderful tradition and I am sincerely thankful for each person who has helped us celebrate the impending birth of our firstborn son.

July 28th- hosted by family and friends

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My and Cody’s baby pictures

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Lovely vegetable centerpieces to go with the Peter Rabbit theme

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My dear husband and me (in a not-so-flattering dress). I was thirty-four-ish weeks in this photo.

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Michael Ryan’s soon-to-be Grandmaw, Grandma, Nana… she’s not sure yet 🙂

August 11th- hosted by our church

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My mother and I in stripes

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Delicious cookies with Michael Ryan’s initials

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Beautiful aqua blue punch

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So many cute outfits! I wasn’t expecting to receive so much clothing for a baby boy!

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Now that we’re pretty much ready for our baby’s arrival, I thought I’d share a peek at his nursery.

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Big basket of Econobums cloth diapers, covers, and Snappi fasteners

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Several photos of his baby bed to come. The Beatrix Potter comforter I found at a local thrift store for $2.50. The green crib sheet was in the same bin, matched perfectly, and cost only a quarter. Mother and I used a $1.00 pattern from Hobby Lobby and inexpensive unbleached cotton to make bumpers and a crib skirt.

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An old rocker that’s just my size from my grandmother, another thrift store quilt, and a beautifully soft monogrammed baby blanket.

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Geoff guarding our stash of baby wipes.

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It suddenly occurred to me a few weeks ago that I had nowhere to sit the baby once I inevitably had to go to the bathroom or cook supper or shower or load the washing machine. Luckily, one of Cody’s aunts gifted us this cute bouncer.

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A closet FULL of clothes!

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A blogger I follow suggested creating a nursing basket to keep in our bedroom during the first few weeks so that all the essentials are on hand for late night feedings. Mine includes: blankets, thin cloth diapers for burping, cotton and disposable nursing pads, creams, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, and a nursing cover. I plan to add some bottled water and granola bars, too.

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My sweet friend Alyson got him this awesomely spacious diaper bag. It is ready to go with several coming-home outfit options.

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A bag of towels and waterproof pads for the car and one of our trusty backpacks stuffed with clothing and underwear for our birthday trek to Chattanooga.

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The sweetest church outfit ever.

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We’ve got to get that car seat installed this week!

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Lots and lots of baby blankets and a Moby Wrap that we’re super excited about using.

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Teeny tiny socks

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More towels and wash clothes than we will likely ever need.

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I got these and the larger Beatrix Potter prints on Amazon for a couple of dollars each. The frames are just cheap-os from Hobby Lobby.

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Hamper to be used as a diaper pail (and that will probably wind up outside that door on the porch!)