Like most people, I hate needles and cringe at the sight of an IV drip. When I was a child, I decided that if having a baby required getting an IV, I did not want to have a baby. As I got older, I realized that was not a good reason to skip the joys of motherhood but I still longed to avoid needles and an IV if I had a baby. Fast forward to my 30s. That viewpoint remained the same. I am not a fan of taking medicine unless absolutely necessary; I prefer to feel pain and discomfort to taking a pill to mask it.
When I got pregnant the first time, I researched childbirth classes and found options for preparing for a natural, drug-free labor and delivery. I found the Bradley Method course and what I read closely aligned with my vision of childbirth. I mentioned it to my husband and he was on board with 12 weeks of class (yes, 12 weeks!). We miscarried before taking the course but my desire for a drug-free delivery did not change. When we got pregnant the second time and were past the first trimester, I enrolled us in the course. Committing to 12 weeks of a childbirth class while I was traveling for work and working crazy hours was a challenge but it meant a lot to me, so we did it.
To me, the Bradley Method classes equip the partner (aka. “coach”) with tools to help the mom during labor and delivery and encourage practicing those tools every day. It also teaches a lot about pregnancy, the stages of labor, potential complications and what to do for all of those to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience. Though we did not do all the assigned homework, we spent time every night doing the relaxation exercise that worked for us. My husband was amazing with coming up with a verbal story to help me relax while giving me a massage; it not only helped me clear my mind but it helped my body relax and go to sleep.
Some of the key topics covered during the course were:
- Pregnancy diet and exercise
- Relaxing during labor
- Stages of labor and what to expect for each (very detailed!)
- Birthing positions and what position is best during situations that can arise
- Writing our birth plan
- Talking through how to handle potential complications
- Guidance on breastfeeding and post-pregnancy care for mom and baby
- The important role of the coach during pregnancy and childbirth
Our instructor was fantastic and gave us lots of resources and was ready to take our call day or night if we needed help during L&D. We felt confident that we were prepared for me to give birth without any pain meds after the course and practicing relaxing and breathing. Though labor did not go as planned (typical…), what we learned and practiced enabled me to forego the epidural and give birth as I hoped. I highly recommend the course for anyone considering skipping the epidural and giving birth naturally;