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Bradley birth method

All You Need To Know About The Bradley Method For Childbirth

Hey mama, have you been exploring your options for childbirth classes? If so, you have probably heard someone mention the Bradley Birth Method and you may be wondering if Bradley classes are right for you. 

Here at She Births Bravely, we love helping moms prepare for empowering, positive birth experiences. We often get asked how our classes compare with other classes such as the Bradley Birth Method. 

I will be totally honest, we are incredibly proud of the results we get our moms in our class, Birth Undone. However, sometimes Bradley classes for pregnancy are the right choice. 

This article will help you understand the pros and cons of both classes so that you can weigh your own needs with the options available and make the best choice for you. 

What Is The Bradley Birth Method?

Dr. Bradley created the Bradley Birth Method in the 1950s. Lamaze classes and Hypnobirthing classes were also developed in this same general time frame. The quick popularity of these courses was driven by an atmosphere of extreme violence against women during birth. But these methods are powerful, and still used today by mothers seeking a positive and healthy birth experience.

Bradley classes focus on helping mothers achieve a natural, medication-free birth through relaxation and by teaching a woman’s husband to act as a coach throughout the birth. This is why some people call the Bradley Birth Method the husband coached childbirth method.

At the time, when Dr. Bradley created this method, husband, or partner coached labor was a radical idea. You see, when this method was developed, women were often victims of intense medical violence when birthing their babies. It was rare for men to be in the birth room. In fact, many families didn’t have the right to have a husband present for birth even if they wanted to as it was against hospital policy in many places. 

Dr. Bradley presumed that if fathers were more involved with birth, mothers and babies would be healthier and natural labor would be much more attainable. This has since been confirmed by significant amounts of research.

He also presumed that natural labor would keep both mom and baby safer – unless medical intervention was absolutely necessary because of an immediate problem. He frowned on the common practices of routine medical intervention.

Course Objective: the aim of the Bradley birth method is to prepare both a mom and husband to be fully prepared for natural, unmedicated labor. In this class, a husband, or partner is prepared to be a labor coach or doula. Mom’s are taught how to relax through birth and stay healthy during pregnancy.

What Do You Mean By Obstetrical Violence?

The Bradley Birth Method was created to protect moms and babies in a system that was putting them in danger. One of the most scandalous news articles in all history was released in 1957, around the time the Bradley Birth Method was created. This article, written by nurses and mothers, exposed extreme amounts of violence towards birthing women within the walls of the hospital.

This violence consisted of:

  • women being strapped down on their backs with their feet in stirrups for hours with no pain medication while in labor,
  • women’s legs being tied together to ‘keep a baby in’ so a doctor could finish dinner before attending the birth,
  • women being hit or told they would give birth to a brain dead baby if they cried out in pain,
  • doctors cutting the vagina (called an episiotomy) without permission and without pain medication to speed up the birth process

While many changes have been made and actions such as these would land a hospital or doctor in a massive lawsuit today, all obstetrical violence has not disappeared.

Does Obstetrical Violence Exist Today?

Many hospitals are very woman and baby-friendly. However, in some hospitals, women still commonly suffer mistreatment at the hands of their doctors and nurses. This can range from disrespect, denial of a women’s right to make informed decisions about her own body and baby, verbal, physical, and even sexual assault during birth.

Studies show that much of this violence is inherent in the hospital system. (Though it is possible to encounter violence during birth out of the hospital as well.) This is a large reason for the home birth movement and the increasing popularity of community birth centers.

If you are wondering what the atmosphere at your local hospital is like, you can look it up pretty easily. Most hospitals are graded on how mother and baby friendly they are and report their c-section rates now. You may be surprised that some hospitals have rates as low as 7% for first time, healthy moms, while others have rates as high as 70% for the same group of women. Find out how to look up your hospital here.

Now, let’s get back to the classes that brought you here!

What Are Bradley Classes?

husband supported childbirth class

The Bradley Birth Method helps moms have natural, unmedicated birth at either the home hospital or birth center. This method is also sometimes called husband coached birthing because a woman’s partner is the main support person for her through labor. 

The Bradley Birth Method focuses on preparing both you and your partner with skills that will get you get through birth. This allows your partner to meet your needs and advocate and protect you during the process of birth. 

His role is to provide positive encouragement, as well as emotional and physical support. He also learns how to journey with you through the process of birth. 

Your role in the Bradley Birth Method is to take care of yourself with exercises, healthy foods, and mental preparation. That way your mind and body are both prepared for birth when it begins.

Compared to many other methods, the exercises and nutritional information provided in these classes is very detailed. When it comes to preparing the body for birth, the Bradley method is top-notch.

What Does A Bradley Birth Look Like? 

The Bradley Birth Method encourages moms to use relaxation as their main coping strategy for labor. In fact, moms are highly encouraged to spend the majority of their labors in bed, on their left side, in one position.

Because moms learned in-depth nutritional information, moms are less likely to have severe medical complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. This can make birth safer for both moms and babies. Also, the exercises can be helpful in making birth more straightforward by aligning the pelvis, adding flexibility to the hip flexors, and toning the birth canal. All of these things help restore the bodies natural ability to birth easily that modern life has interrupted.

Couples also have a strong ability to work together and to advocate for themselves in hospitals that are less mother-friendly after taking Bradley birth classes.

What Does A Bradley Birth Class Look Like?

Typically Bradley classes are small, intimate classes with just 3 to 5 families in any given sequence. 

Each class is typically 3 hours long and there are usually 12 sessions. 

In each class, you will learn childbirth education, practice relaxation techniques and your partner will practice techniques to support you. 

When you sign up for any Bradley Birth Class, you will get a 130 page book that reviews the material you learn in class.

Bradley Birth classes typically cost around $400. Sometimes they are as expensive as $700+. Sometimes they cost less. It really depends on who is teaching in your area and how many students are in the course.

Pros Of The Bradley Birth Method

Bradley Birth Classes Exercises

Bradley classes do an exceptional job of preparing partners to support a woman through birth. They also give parents plenty of time to practice and develop their skills they will need during labor.

These classes are very thorough at preparing families for a natural birth – especially in a hostile setting. If for any reason you have to give birth with a doctor who is not that supportive of your birth plan, or if all the hospitals in your area are poorly rated on the mother/baby friendliness scale, these classes can really help you.

Cons Of The Bradley Birth Method 

One thing that can be off-putting in these courses is the constant use of the phrase’ husband coached birthing.’ Birthing families have many shapes and forms. All of which are equally valuable. If your family isn’t a husband-wife structure, you may want to talk with an instructor before the course and get a feel for the language that will be used, if that is important to you.

The biggest con of Bradley classes is that it focuses so much on staying in bed during birth. This is not an evidence based practice. However, it could be a skill that is needed if you are in a less than supportive environment as was common when this method was created. (Luckily that is rare now! Most women have the right to move about their room as they labor.)

My opinion is that this recomendation is more about helping a mom survive birth in a hospital where she won’t be allowed to move around or vocalize her emotions about the intensity of contractions than helping labor progress. In fact, moving during birth can help a baby move into a better position which can help the birth process.

Relaxing peacefully while laying on your side may work for some moms, but it doesn’t for all moms. 

The last downside to these classes is that they can be very long, require work outside the class, and can be very information-heavy. Honestly, most of what moms need to do to prepare for birth is about internal preparation and finding your courage, building your support team, and communicating effectively with your care provider.

Too much information can get in the way of actually doing the things you need to do to be ready for the big day.

How Do Bradley Classes Compare To Your Class, Birth Undone?

There are things I absolutely love about the Bradley Method for birth. Specifically, the attention to preparing not just the mind, but the body as well. Birth Undone also helps moms prepare for natural, unmedicated labor. However, we also help moms planning for an epidural know how to manage their birth and reduce risks in their births as well.

One of the challenges I’ve seen moms have in Bradley inspired classes is that these classes focus so much on information, that it can be hard to implement the strategies.

Because of that, I don’t just tell you how to do something. I provide you with detailed tools to help you actually make changes to your diet. I don’t tell you that you should be squatting, I teach you how to increase flexibility to your joints in a safe way, so you can develop that skill (because it will help make more space for your baby if you do it correctly.)

Birth Undone is not just about getting information, it’s about having a system that brings you from where you are now, to a place of being emotionally, physically, mentally, and relationship-wise strong and ready for birth.

In Birth Undone you will discover a variety of pain coping skills, including relaxation and hypnosis, along with many other strategies to make your labor simple and straightforward.

You also grow in your ability to work with and communicate with your partner. And you will be guided in how to advocate for yourself, pick the right places for birth -for you, and how to advocate for yourself and make educated, informed decisions that protect and your baby and your birth experience.

Who Is The Bradley Birth Method Right For?

Bradley Birth classes are an excellent choice for in person classes. There are also online versions available if you look. They are great for couples that want to grow together and spend a significant amount of time preparing for birth as a family. They are also perfect for moms who for one reason or the other are birthing with a less than supportive care provider or in a hospital that doesn’t provide much support to moms who want a natural birth.

Who Is Birth Undone Right For?

Bradley Birth For Pregnancy Breathing Exercise

Birth Undone focuses on helping moms prepare mind, body, baby, and partner to work together in birth. It is for moms who have a priority of a healthy baby, healthy mama, and want that experience to also be pretty magical as well.

This birth class can be used for moms birthing at the hospital, birth center, or at home. It can also be used by moms planning to use epidurals or to go natural. It will help you address birth fears and overcome challenges that are intrinsic to the birth process.

This class is taught in 40 daily 10-minute videos that help a mom understand how she can make birth safer and more rewarding. It is for moms that want to be a part of an online community and support system, who are willing to practice and implement the strategies taught. Because of the style of teaching, this class will work very well for moms with time and energy constraints.

How Do Bradley Classes Compare To Other Classes?

We have a comprehensive list of birthing classes on our blog. If you want to explore how hypnobirthing compares to other classes such as Lamaze, Bradley Classes and Hypnobabies, feel free to peruse this article.

The Bradley Birth Method Explained TL/DR

Key Takeaway – Your partner can coach and guide you through birth by offering you positive encouragement, advocating for your needs, and supporting you with various comfort measures. You can prepare for birth by creating healthy habits of the mind and in your body to be ready for birth.

The Bradley Birth Method is a class that is based on the belief that when husbands (or other partners) are present for birth moms and babies are safer and healthier. By preparing the body and mind, natural unmedicated birth is available to most moms.

Birth Undone is a birth class that will help you prepare body, mind, baby, and partner for birth to work together as a whole, unified team. It will also help you prioritize the things you can do to make your birth as safe and rewarding as possible.

I hope this article helped you understand the pros and cons of Bradley classes compared to Birth Undone. We would LOVE to help you prepare for a fabulous birth. Our next class starts on the first of the month! If you have any questions reach out to Suzzie at contact @shebirthsbravely.com.