The Bradley method is a natural childbirth technique pioneered by Dr. Robert Bradley in the 1940s. Today, the technique is also known as “husband-coached childbirth”.
The Bradley method became popular in the 1960s after the publication of Dr. Bradley’s book, Husband-Coached Childbirth, in 1965. It’s remained popular over the years – especially among those who advocate a natural birth.
The Bradley method is based off a simple principle: practitioners believe that anyone with the right coaching from a loving and supportive individual (like a husband) can give birth naturally – without drugs or surgery – to a healthy baby.
Today, you can find Bradley method classes around the world. During classes, you’ll learn about everything from nutritional advice to relaxation and pain management techniques. Husbands and partners are expected to participate in classes – as they will play an active role in the birth.
How Does the Bradley Method Work?
The Bradley method is based on the idea that childbirth is a natural process. After all, women have been giving birth to children long before the invention of modern medicine. With the right nutrition, fitness, and pain management techniques, expectant mothers can enjoy a smoother, healthier childbirth process.
The primary goal of the Bradley method is simple: to help you give birth to a healthy child. Practitioners of the Bradley method claim that approximately 86% of Bradley mothers have vaginal births without drugs.
Here are some of the things you’ll learn as part of the Bradley method, or through Bradley classes:
- How to give birth to a natural, healthy child without the use of drugs or medicine
- Nutritional advice before, during, and after the birth of your child
- Relaxation techniques to help you before and during the birth
- Natural breathing techniques you can use to manage pain
- How your husband (or partner) can actively participate as your supportive birth coach
- How to be knowledgeable about birth services
- The importance of breastfeeding, and how to breastfeed to maximize the health of your baby
- How to make informed decisions regarding birth procedures, attendants, and the birthplace of your child
- The “Six Needs of the Laboring Woman”, which include quiet, darkness, solitude, physical comfort, deep and complete relaxation and abdominal breathing, as well as closed eyes and the appearance of sleep
- Different labor positions and the comfort measures you can take to minimize the pain of the birth
- How to master your relaxation techniques as a pain relief tool, including relaxation techniques couples are encouraged to practice daily; then, when the birth comes, they can perform these relaxation techniques together to minimize pain
When Should You Begin the Bradley Method?
Typically, couples begin Bradley method training in the fifth month.
However, instructors will tell you that the earlier you start, the better prepared you’ll be emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you’re interested in the Bradley method, you can find classes catering to every stage of your pregnancy.
If you’re working with an official training organization, Bradley method classes should last about 12 weeks – right up to the birth of your child.
How to Learn the Bradley Method
If you search for information about the Bradley method online, you’ll undoubtedly encounter a website called BradleyBirth.com. That website was created by the “American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth”, and they’ve trademarked the name “The Bradley Method”. It’s unclear how the website is affiliated with Dr. Bradley (if at all), but they’ll connect you with Bradley method instructors in your area. The website has a directory of instructors across all 50 states. A class typically lasts about 12 weeks.
Typically, these classes cost between $250 and $450 per class. It’s not covered by insurance.
You can find reviews online from all types of parents. Some people feel the classes were worth it. Others felt it was a waste of money. In most cases, the quality comes down to the instructor. Intelligent and experienced instructors can provide valuable mentorship throughout the birthing process. Inexperienced instructors, however, can leave you feeling ripped off.
What many people do is buy various Bradley method books. They’ll either take one or two Bradley method classes, then read the books to fill in any gaps in knowledge. Some of the best books include:
Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, M.D.
Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
Assistant Coach’s Manual by Susan Hathaway Bek and Marjie Hathaway
Bradley Method Class Pricing: How Much Should You Expect to Pay?
Typically, Bradley method classes are priced between $250 and $450 USD, depending on the cost of living in your area. Sometimes, classes are spread out over a single weekend or day. In other cases, they’re spread out over 2 hour sessions every week.
Ultimately, the Bradley method is a natural birthing technique that involves educating expectant parents on how to give birth safely, naturally, and without the use of medication. Many people swear by the technique and claim the classes were worth it, while others find that it’s not the right choice for them. Talk to your partner to find out if the Bradley method is the right choice for you.