There are tons of different childbirth classes out there, one of the most well known being Lamaze. Jon and I hadn't really talked much about what sort of class to take until I began doing some research online. In my reading I came across the Bradley method, also known as "Husband Coached Childbirth." After talking to some friends of ours and doing some more research both Jon and I decided that this was the way we wanted to go. The Bradley method teaches natural childbirth and gives the mother and father (referred to as "the coach") knowledge and resources in order to be better prepared for labor.
The Bradley method is unique in a couple of ways. First of all this class is a huge proponent of non-medicated births. It is also a pretty extensive class; instead of an expected 4-6 classes, the Bradley classes are a 12 week long course that covers everything from nutrition, anatomy and physiology of labor, coaching, techniques for dealing with the different stages of labor and reaching as far as breastfeeding and postpartum preparation. The Bradley method views labor as a marathon and just like you would train to prepare your body for a marathon, it trains the mother to prepare her body to better handle the stress and pain of labor.
Another thing that we really like about the Bradley method is that the husband is an integral part of the birthing process. As the coach, he has to know what is going on, be able to read the signs of the stages of labor and be able to help make decisions if an alternative intervention is needed. Jon has felt that taking the class has removed so much of the mystery of labor- he now knows that labor comes in stages, dilation is only one of four indicators of the progress of labor (the others are station, effacement and position of the baby) and is familiar with many of the physical processes that occur surrounding and during labor. Taking the Bradley class means that not only does he know what is going on, but he can be much more involved in labor, coaching me into positions that will speed up labor and encouraging me with realistic specifics rather than just blindly assuring me that everything will be fine. He is thrilled to be as involved as possible in the birth of this baby.
We are now on to week 10 of our 12 week course and I can say that we have learned so much! Jon and I will be the first to tell you that we haven't agreed with everything in the class, but just being more informed has been a huge confidence booster for me. I've known and heard from people on both sides of the spectrum; those who think hospitals and doctors are unnecessary and those who are ready to schedule a c-section for the sake of convenience. We've talked about how to know when you should go to the hospital, what helps and what hinders contractions and been exposed to probably the most detailed account of what the process of birth is like. So, where do I fall now that I'm close to completely this Bradley class?
Well, I'm personally not on board with a home birth, but I really want to try and have this baby naturally. Before this class, the thought of going through labor without meds was just something I kind of admired, (my mom was able to that multiple times) but now I deeply desire to do it. This is something I want to experience; this method fits me well. Women have been doing this for thousands of years and I believe God made our bodies with the ability to do this on our own. So, here goes nothing! Jon and I have agreed that I will take medication if I really think things are becoming unmanageable, and of course if there is a serious need for medical intervention, we trust our doctor's experience. The reality is that the only outcome that matters is a safe and healthy baby, but we're excited to experience birth in this unique and amazing way. We'll see what happens.