Starting in college I had this idea that I really wanted to give birth naturally when I had kids. My mom had given birth naturally and said she felt it was totally doable. A lot of women in my church were also giving birth naturally. It sounded like such a great idea, but in all honesty I had NO idea what I was talking about. NO idea!
Getting pregnant was a lot more challenging than I expected. I got pregnant with our first child after several months of "trying" to get pregnant, but quickly miscarried at 5 weeks. It was heartbreaking. Then a few months later I had a season of major health issues that I needed to work through before trying to get pregnant again. But right before our first baby would have been due we got the wonderful news that we were pregnant again! We were starting our big adventure in parenting!
Right away we had some friends recommend to us The Bradley Method. This is a childbirth training program that both helps bring amazing education on pregnancy and birth, but also provides practical training and methods to aid natural childbirth. The focus of the Bradley Method is to give parents the all the resources, knowledge and preparation they need to make the best choices for them and their baby regarding the birth and to be as prepared as possible to do birth without any unnecessary medical intervention. In this, the parents are actually in the decision-making driver seat as opposed to just showing up and doing whatever the doctor recommends you do. Upon our friends recommendation, we signed up for a 12 week class and our education began!
Twelve weeks seems like a huge time commitment. I look back on those weeks with much fondness though. Each night was our special night to focus on baby and then we would get home and snuggle on the couch together and watch some PBS. Ah, memories! Now we are lucky to get 30 quiet minutes on any given day without our sweet bunch screaming around us. But I digress :). From our very first class I was SOOO glad we were taking it. And I began to wonder why I had previously thought I could go into birth and just somehow manage to do things naturally. I knew nothing of labor and nothing about delivery. Some women can go in cold and manage a natural childbirth. I don't think that I could have been one of them. Education is key to having a natural childbirth - I am convinced of this!
So here is what our education included in our Bradley Class:
- We learned about why a natural childbirth is desirable and the possible effects of the different medical interventions.
- We learned about how a healthy diet can support a healthy pregnancy and labor. Bradley includes a checklist of what things to include and what to exclude. For me eating became my full time job and I would say that this was a huge step in my developing convictions on healthy eating. I don't know that I would follow their nutrition advice to a t today, but for me at the time it was an excellent start!
- We learned about pregnancy and how the baby develops.
- We learned about the stages of labor and how to recognize each one.
- We learned about practical pain management techniques, and we practiced this in class and regularly at home (Moms, this involves getting massaged by your partner regularly!).
- We learned about how to form a birth plan and how to communicate your birth wishes with your doctor or midwife.
- We learned some of the practicals of breastfeeding.
- We also talked about when things don't go as planned, and how to handle birth surprises or problems.
- The class also focuses on training the dad to coach the mom and support her in the birth goals.
- And more!
While I believe the benefits of the Bradley Method are amazing, some are a bit put off by it. I think that whether or not you choose a natural childbirth, the education is awesome. But Bradley Method has a clear opinion on natural childbirth, and it would be tough to take the class and not feel that. However, I personally LOVED my experience and feel it was invaluable in every single birth experience I had. I highly recommend investing in this class if you have any interest at all in a natural childbirth!
In my next post I am going to talk about some of the benefits to a natural childbirth and why I am such a huge advocate!