Friday, October 17, 2008

Childbirth Classes - Bradley?

One item I keep pushing down on my "to do" list is registering for baby-related classes at the hospital. Because David works for the hospital, we will be able to attend almost any class we're interested in for free. We reviewed the list and agreed that we'd like to go to several together. However, David's busy schedule has limited our availability in recent months - maybe now that he has completed his last lecture course (he got a 97% on the last test - woohoo!!) we'll be able to get our calendars coordinated.

I'm interested in attending sessions on newborn care, CPR and child safety, and breastfeeding, and I'm definitely hoping to tour the facility. The nurse highly encouraged us to attend the Childbirth Prep Class offered over a weekend or on a series of weekday evenings, but I am a little hesitant because I've confirmed that they only introduce Lamaze techniques for getting through labor.

Dear friends and a little study have led me to believe that David and I should learn about the Bradley childbirth philosophy and methodology. I found a class that starts next month, but the time-intensiveness and high cost are somewhat prohibitive. We would have to pay $250 for 12 weekly sessions leading up to the birth. Is it really worth that much money?

I've found the key Bradley texts online (and requested them on our Amazon baby registry) - can we just study those?

I'm very interested to hear others' perspective on this choice: what did/would you do to prepare for labor and delivery? What are the pros and cons of Lamaze vs. Bradley (that you know of or have experienced)? Can books and Internet research provide enough information, or are in-person classes essential?

Photo credit: G u i d o


Brenda said...

Hi there, found you through Lillian's blog. Bradley classes are worth it! Our daughter was a bradley birth and even though we ended up with a c section due to stalling out at 6 cm, it was still enormously helpful. I did not have an epidural for more than 24 hours of labor right up until we realized I wasn't progressing. I had scar tissue on my cervix so it wouldn't stretch. Anyway, Bradley method taught us a lot about communication w/ each other, our healthcare professionals(which you will need if you are birthing in a hospital) and tons about prenatal care and bfeeding. We were give lots of resources on nutrition and relaxation techniques that were practiced and accounted for during class. For first timers like us, I don't think we could have done without it! If you have other questions, I'd be happy to answer specifically if you want to e mail.

But bottom line, try the Bradley method. It's gentle and wonderful and even if you end up with a csection and tons of drugs (which I hope you don't:)) it was such a well rounded preparation on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level. Will check in again!

Lillian said...

YES!! Take them!! We took them with our second pregnancy./ We had taken Lamaze classes with our first and they weren't very helpful. So, second time around we splurged and took Bradley classes. This while Craig was in grad school and we were VERY poor.

The difference btwn taking the classes and just reading the book is that usually the moms read the book and the husbands get the summary. But, the classes are really geared more towards the husband since he will be dsoing the coaching while you will be laboring.

Most classes seem to speak to the woman but with Bradley classes, it empowers the man to know what signs to look for, to help him be more protective and guard his wife from too much medical intrusion, and to be her main support. It really trasnformed my dh.

We now do birth centers and while I have doulas and midwives, I still don't know what I would have done without Craig's coaching ability in a hospital. A hospital is just NOT a friendly place to go if you want a natural childrbirth.

Bradley classes will arm you with SOOO much knowledge. They will teach you how to labor for a long time at home, what to say no to (too much fetal monitoring, wanting to break your water prematurely, even saying no to your OB about being checked 2 weeks before to see how dilated you are and to strip your membranes, etc.)

The books are great but the classes are invaluable.

Just my LONG $.02.

Good luck!!

~Lillian, a natural birther for the last five kiddos ;-) and praying for another one!! God willing!!

Trisha Q said...

My husband and I have done some reading. We chose Bradley. The relaxation and deep breathing seemed to make sense as opposed to the quick breathing that Lamaze teaches. (Which also can lead to hyperventilating) We are enjoying the class. Just like anything else we do have to sift the good stuff from some of the stuff.

Frances said...

Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful, informative comments! We decided to try the Bradley classes out - the instructor said we are welcome to come to the first one and then make a decision whether or not to continue. She also said we can pay as we are able. How nice!

Thankfully, David actually knows more about labor and delivery than I do - from a medical perspective. I am confident that he will be a wonderful support and advocate. And learning the Bradley method will only help us both.

Wood said...

When I was pregnant with Joseph, CMC had a 3 day natural-birth oriented childbirth prep class that Michael and I took. It was an overview of many different types of natural birthing techniques and it also went over all the different possible interventions, the domino effect etc.

Beyond that, I only read the Bradley book. (Michael did not.) Particularly after learning about medical interventions, we were both strongly committed to a natural birth, and I think that was one of the most important reasons for our success in that regard.

I don't think you would regret taking a class and that it would provide a lot of excellent info and concrete practice in the techniques. But I just wanted to let you know that I didn't take a class and still had a successful natural birth! (I did recall some of what I had read while laboring and it helped me.)

I have only ever heard good things about the Bradley technique. But I have now also heard lots of good things about hypnobirthing and plan on reading a book on that very soon. (I think hypnobirth classes cost about the same as Bradley.) Hopefully I'll be able to apply some of those techniques with this labor and birth!

We did hire a doula as well, and both feel that this was money well spent. Although Michael did not have as much knowledge or experience in being a labor coach (which I don't fault him for), so perhaps if you do take the whole bradley class, you will both feel confident in David's ability to coach and support you and therefore pass on the doula (another $300-$500 expense.) Or you could go the other way, not take a class, and hire a doula if finances dictate that you only have one or the other.

Just some thoughts! Good luck!
(FWIW, we will have a doula for this birth too!)

Katherine T. Lauer said...

Well, you know I'm a huge fan of Bradley. I think the classes are worth every single penny. $250 to avoid all the insane unnecessary interventions and 33% national C-section rate (most of which are unnecessary)? Yes, ma'am! The class does provide much more than books. The class will put you in touch with a large network of *local* supportive providers, something the book can't do.

Also, I can't recommend enough hiring a doula. I think it is critical for birth. My husband was hesitant at first because the (very experienced) one I wanted was $500, but afterward he said he would have paid her *anything* and that we'd never go through birth without a doula again. One could hire a less experienced doula for less money or a doula-in-training for free.

Katherine T. Lauer said...

Also, you mentioned wanting to take classes on breastfeeding. The best I can recommend (and I think they'd be far more useful than something offered at a hospital) is La Leche League (founded by a bunch of Catholic ladies with zillions of kids among them! :). LLL goes through the same series of four sessions over and over, but because it is dynamic and there are different women and kids and issues at each meeting, it never gets old or boring. You have time to go through the cycle of four meetings before your baby arrives. The order in which you take them doesn't matter. Of course, they're always free. I also love the way LLL helps you meet other nursing mothers going through what you are (will be) going through. See this website for local chapters: