Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Bradley Method (seems to be right on the nose)

I have never taken a Bradley Class. In fact, I have never even been tempted too. I bet I could benefit from it, but honestly I just don't like things like birth classes. I much prefer to do things myself, and quite honestly, that does tend to mean they are not done as properly, as they would have been if I had had the instruction.

All this being said, I do think if someone wants to have a natural birth, they should take a Bradley Class. Actually I think they should definitely take one if they are having a hospital birth. Only because the instructor will be able to guide you to having a natural birth in the hospital, which is very difficult, even in hospitals that claim to do natural births.

To a doctor natural could mean a lot of different things. It could mean delivering without an epsiotomy. It could mean delivering without pain medication. It could mean birth starts on its own, without induction. But to me and to the Bradley people, and to the community of natural birth people out there, natural child birth means birth that starts, continues and ends the way it has since before women started to use doctors for delivery. Meaning a birth that begins on it's own. The mother labors in the way she feels most comfortable, but never flat on her back (never!), standing, walking, maybe in a tub, on her hands and knees rocking back and forth. Then delivering the baby in several different positions (never with her feet in stirrups) such as: reclined 45 degrees, on her knees, on hands and knees, on her side, standing, or squatting. Then the baby comes out without assistance, in most cases but not all, and the mother then is immediately able to hold her baby, with the cord still attached. And in many cases the mother can breast feed immediately, which can facilitate the expulsion of the placenta.

Back to the Bradley Method. When I was pregnant with my first, I read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. It formed my first perceptions of childbirth. Then I had my baby and found that not everything I read happened the way the author said it would. So although I was still greatly influenced by it, I kind of let it fall to the way side of my brain. Then as I had more children, and learned more about childbirth, and talked to more people, I found something amazing. I have realized that Bradley got it right.

If you read the book I read, the author goes through the physiology of child birth, how to prepare for it, and then discusses how to deal with childbirth. The physiology is scientific. I goes through everything your body does and the baby does during childbirth, things that I have only affirmed through out the years in separate research. Then I encountered the hypnobirthing fad. Hypnobirthing is not the same as the Bradley relaxation method but it's the same idea, concentrated relaxation while contracting. It works. People rave about hypnobirthing.

Finally we reach the kegal. Kegals are important for many reasons, which are explained in the Bradley book as well. If your pelvic floor muscles, also called PC muscles and kegal muscles, are properly toned, your delivery will be better, and you will be more comfortable through out pregnancy and through out your postpartum life. Also it will prevent uterine prolapse, and incontinence, things that affect women as they get older. There are people out there that don't care about the kegal muscles and there are people who are insane about kegal muscles and do kegal exercises excessively. I read a fascinating article today call Why You Should Stop Doing Kegals. It explains that the muscles need to be toned and the correct length, not super tight. doing excessive kegal exercises could cause the same problems as having flabby undertoned muscles can. The key is to have strong glutes, which for the purposes of the PC muscles, which means squatting, something the Bradley method emphasizes as an essential exercise. According to this article the best way to treat abused kegals, from bearing the weight of the pregnancy and delivering the baby, the best way is to do ten kegals when squatting so that length as well as tone are achieved.

Basically I think that the Bradley book is an essential basis for understanding and achieving natural childbirth.