Having a Baby with the Bradley Method
By Amber Erickson Gabbey
Preparing to give birth is a nerve-wracking time, for new and seasoned mothers alike. Some enter the process with ease, while others are downright terrified. But regardless ofw hich camp you fit in, it helps to be educated and have a plan.
When Sally Meyer, a thirty-three-year-old mother of two from Eau Claire, was expecting her second child, she knew she needed to take a refresher course but didn’t want to take the same class again. “I was looking to learn more. My boys are 3.5 years apart, so I had forgotten a lot,” laughed Meyer. A random posting on Facebook led Meyer to The Bradley Method.
The Bradley Method is a natural childbirth curriculum focused on healthy moms, healthy babies, and healthy families. The group meets for two hours weekly for twelve weeks, which is considerably longer than other childbirth classes. “These classes cover so much more than just labor,” says Amanda Gunderson, a certified teacherserving the Chippewa Valley, “from staying healthy during your pregnancy to how to care for your baby and yourself after birth.” Course content also includes nutrition, stages of labor, pros and cons of drugs, exercise to physically prep the body, relaxation techniques, handling contractions and postpartum care like complications and breastfeeding. “We practice these concepts a lot together so that it’s easy for couples to implement during the birth process,” says Gunderson. What participants achieve at the end of the twelve weeks is empowerment. They are given all the information and tools necessary to make informed choices about how they want the birth process to go. It doesn’t always go as planned, but at least they are ready to handle whatever comes their way.
One component that makes The Bradley Method unique is the focus on the coach. Coaches are typically significant others, but can be anyone dedicated to helping the mom achieve the birth she envisions. In many other birth classes, while the person in the coach role is involved, they don’t have the tools and information they need to really be helpful and effective. We’ve all seen the movies where the dads pass out in the delivery room or end up hysterical and have to be toned down by their wives. These types of scenarios just create more stress during labor and delivery.
Empowering the coaches and arming them with strategies and techniques to try during labor and delivery serves to help everyone involved. This could be why Gunderson sees such a high rate of natural births with her students, at 87 percent. Not all moms achieve a natural birth, and that’s ok too. What matters is that the mom and coach were informed and in control the entire time. Gunderson finds that even the moms who didn’t achieve a natural birth were highly satisfied with the classes and the overall birth experience.
For Meyer, it was all about the preparation. “You know it’s going to hurt,” she says, “but knowing what to expect and having a partner who’s prepared really helps.” But beyond just being informed and having an empowered coach, The Bradley Method classes provided an unexpected benefit: date night. “Class time eachweek was dedicated time set aside to prepare and learn together. We were forced to get a babysitter and bond over our second child. It was an unexpected and happy accident, where we got the chance to just be excited and talk about the baby.”
Meyer delivered a healthy baby boy naturally and believes that The Bradley Method was a big factor in that success.
If you are interested in learning more about The Bradley Method or attending a session with Amanda Gunderson, visit www.bradleybirth.com/amandagunderson.