Bradley Natural Childbirth Method

An early method of natural childbirth, the Bradley Method was developed by Dr. Robert A. Bradley (1917-1998). Some people know this method by the term "husband-coached childbirth." Bradley set forth his ideas in a book called Husband-Coached Childbirth.

Supportive Partner

While the Lamaze method tends to discourage pain medication, Bradley's focus on this issue is a bit stronger. He believed that women who take proper care of themselves during their pregnancies can stay clear of all medical intervention, including medications and surgery, by remaining low-risk and by avoiding complications. The Bradley method also places an emphasis on childbirth education and on having a supportive birth partner.

The main goal of the Bradley method is healthy mothers and babies. Bradley felt that the best way to achieve this aim is through drug-free childbirth. Statistics seem to bear out his contentions. One study discovered that 86% of babies born by the Bradley method are the product of vaginal, medication-free births.

Pain Management

Couples are taught about good prenatal maternal nutrition as well as relaxation and breathing techniques for pain-management. Partners are termed "labor coaches" and given active roles during labor and delivery. The couples are taught about the various options and procedures of labor and delivery so that they will be able to make informed choices about their own care.

Bradley developed his theories at a time when laboring women were always given the general anesthesia known as "twilight sleep." He was a sincere opponent of this type of delivery he termed: "knock-em-out, drag-em-out obstetrics."

Bradley was raised on a farm and had been witness to many animal births. His feeling was that the animals did better at birthing than women because they delivered without benefit of medication. He felt that medication obscured a woman's natural birthing instincts.

Bradley began to try out his theory by persuading pregnant nurses to give his techniques a try. Bradley soon found that a supportive labor partner, such as a father could play a crucial role in making natural childbirth a successful experience. Dr. Bradley began to teach fathers how they might assist their wives in childbirth.

In modern times, teachers of the Bradley method are trained by the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth and must receive certification to become instructors. The Bradley method is taught to expectant couples in 8-12 sessions during which they learn the ins and outs of childbirth and how to make informed decisions.