The Bradley method is a childbirth education approach that prepares a mother for a delivery with minimal need for anesthetics or drugs and advocates the role of coach for the father. This method is named for its founder, Robert A. Bradley, M.D. (1917-1998), who has been credited for getting fathers back into the delivery room.
Your hospital or community center may provide many different types of childbirth education classes for you and your partner. These classes help prepare both of you for the many decisions ahead: How can I tell if something's wrong? Is it OK to exercise or have sex? How will I know when I really go into labor?
Though each approach varies, the general goal of childbirth education is to empower you with knowledge so that your fears diminish, your confidence increases, and you can make informed decisions. Many approaches teach you drug-free techniques, such as paced breathing, that you can use to minimize the pain and discomfort of late-stage pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
The Bradley method is a natural childbirth approach that involves prenatal education, relaxation techniques, and partner participation. The goal of Bradley method training is to ensure a safe birth with reduced pain and anxiety. About 90% of the couples that use the Bradley method have natural childbirth, without medication.
Couples who plan to participate in the Bradley method should tell a health care provider. Putting a birth plan in writing and reviewing it with a health care provider prior to labor allows couples to discuss possible scenarios in a more relaxed setting.
What Will I Learn?
Parents who wish to participate in this method are encouraged to take initial "early birth" classes, followed by weekly classes beginning in the sixth month of pregnancy. The course covers:
- The Bradley method's history, goals, and philosophy.
- Prenatal nutrition.
- Physical changes and discomforts associated with pregnancy.
- Natural techniques to minimize discomfort and pain.
- What to expect during labor and delivery.
- Pushing techniques.
- The coach or father's role.
- Planning your birth.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Bonding with your baby.
- Preparing for your new family.
Where Can I Find A Class?
Your obstetrician, primary physician, or health care provider may have information on Bradley method or other childbirth education classes in your area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What if I change my mind and want to have regular childbirth, with medication or anesthesia?
A: That is your choice. Inform your health-care team when you have made that decision.
Peter J. Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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