The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth Review – Does it Work?

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering!

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don’t Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month’s topic is Natural Birth Choices. Be sure to check out all of the participants’ posts through the links at the bottom of this page.
5 out of 5 leaves

5 out of 5 leaves

For almost all of time, babies have arrived vaginally without any pain medication or other medical intervention.  Modern deliveries, however, are highly managed with 22% of labors induced, 60% of vaginal deliveries have epidural administration, and 32% of babies arrive via C-Section.*  Back in 1965 Dr. Michael Bradley published Husband-Coached Childbirth, which led to development of The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, a 12 week educational program that give parents the tools to have a spontaneous, natural birth.  But does it really work?  Do the tools of The Bradley Method lead to a natural birth?

The Good:

  • Better for you – the Bradley Method teaches you and your partner how to take great care of your pregnant body
  • Better for baby – baby benefits from your better nutrition, exercises, and your medication free birth
  • Saves money – natural, vaginal births cost 30-50% less than a highly managed, or surgical birth
  • Knowledge is power! – Bradley classes are super educational: you will learn all about your pregnant body and growing baby, about special foods and exercises you can do to prepare for birth, natural pain management techniques, and exactly how labor and delivery works (so you don’t have to be scared when the time comes!)
  • Increases partner involvement – your partner can become your unofficial doula or birth coach!
  • Improves your relationship with your partner – the 12 week course, plus homework gives you and your partner lots of special time to focus on each other and the coming baby
  • (spoiler alert!) IT WORKS!!  86% of Bradley Method couples reported a spontaneous, vaginal, drug free delivery

The Bad:

  • Bradley Method classes are typically 12 weeks long – a serious time commitment for you and your partner with today’s busy lifestyle
  • Bradley classes are not cheap – the course plus materials will cost you $250-$500 depending on where you live

My Experience:

The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth: Does it Work? | Green Idea Reviews

When I first learned I was pregnant, I knew that I absolutely wanted a natural (spontaneous, vaginal, medication-free) childbirth.  To me, it just seemed like the healthiest option for both me and my baby.  Also, I am super scared of needles.  So scared that an epidural did NOT sound like a good idea!  I started researching and found a local Bradley Method class that was available at just the right time.

I was rather hesitant about the $350 dollar price tag, and the inconvenience of driving from west Los Angeles into the Valley during rush hour once a week for twelve weeks.  However, the reports that 86% of Bradley Method couples reported a spontaneous, vaginal, drug free delivery were very promising.  Also, I figured it would be really good for my husband to learn a few things about childbirth as well.

We were one of about 6 or 7 couples who met in the instructor’s living room.  Each week our class would go over the homework exercises from our class workbook, listen to the instructor talk about the topic of the week, practice birth-coach led relaxation exercises and finish the evening by watching a few videos of normal, unmedicated, vaginal births.

The information given in the class was great!  We talked about healthy eating for a healthy pregnancy and all about how the babe was growing inside.  The instructor told us all about what we could expect at a hospital birth, including exactly what goes on during epidural administration and circumcision so we could make truly informed decisions.  We learned and practiced daily exercises that would prepare our bodies for an easier labor and delivery, and relaxation techniques to cope with the pain of labor.  And we talked A LOT about how labor happens, and the processes in your body that brings the baby out (as well as how they could go wrong).

I am so glad I took the Bradley Method class!  I learned so much about how my body works, and would work during labor and delivery, and my husband learned even more.  Because of my knowledge of what was going to happen, I was able to face my first childbirth experience without fear!  And my husband was able to completely support me without feeling scared or overwhelmed about all that happens during birth.

When the big day came, my husband coached me all the way.  He was by my side the entire time, helping me through the relaxation exercises we had been practicing for months.  I was able to tolerate labor peacefully, and delivered a beautiful babe completely drug free and naturally.  I could NOT have done it without my Bradley trained husband!

Peaceful Natural Childbirth with The Bradley Method

Overall, I highly recommend The Bradley Method to anyone who desires a natural, normal birth.  It gives both you and your partner the knowledge and tools you need to make informed decisions through the birthing process.  While natural birth is never guaranteed, the Bradley Method gives you the knowledge and tools to give you the best chance.

If you’re still not ready to commit to the 12 week course and class fee, you can check out Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way for a abbreviated version of the course.  Additionally, Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth would give your partner or birth coach great ideas on how to support you during your natural labor.

Have you or anyone you know ever used the Bradley Method?  What was your experience?


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10 Responses to The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth Review – Does it Work?

  1. Andrea says:

    My husband and I took the 12 week Bradley classes, too! While our birth experience did not go the way we wanted, we are still so happy we did Bradley. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Whitney says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. We didn’t go to any Bradley classes, but I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth says:

    We used the Bradley Method as well. It was key in my natural birth and I think it’s lessons are wonderful for any expectant mother, despite their birth plan.

  4. Ashley says:

    I read the book, but did not take the classes. It helped me and my husband with her birth and the next two. Highly recommend it!!

  5. I completely agree, Victoria. I took the Bradley Method when I was pregnant with my first, and Hypnobirthing when pregnant with my second, just to see the differences. I loved them both, and they were both so helpful! But, I usually recommend Bradley Method when the couple are first time parents – it is just so informative!

  6. We loved Bradley Method! We had previously started the free childbirth class offered by the health insurance, but not only was it very “mainstream”, it was condescending and boring–imagine if the worst teacher in your middle school was forced to teach childbirth education; it was like that. Our Bradley teacher did the course in 6 double-length sessions, so it was a big time commitment but less commuting, and the couples took turns bringing hearty snacks!

    We felt the class was very, very informative and helpful. The funny thing is, in retrospect my partner said he felt the most useful thing was a picture chart of the stages of labor that showed “active labor” with the mom’s mouth all squiggly and eyes closed, concentrating–I slept through the early labor, woke up and soaked in a hot bath, and then when I came back to bed, he woke and with one look at my face recognized what was happening! 🙂 I’d say though that Bradley also was helpful in getting my partner comfortable with what his role would be. He is not the most naturally helpful person–he loves me, but he often thinks of his own comfort first–but he was fully into holding me up as I leaned on him, he remembered lots of tips about what might be helpful or comforting to me, and in the moments just before the actual birth when the midwife and nurse were getting all “medical” and I could easily have felt frightened, he was 100% positive energy beaming right through his hands into mine!!

  7. I am a mama to four Bradley Babies! I am so happy you had a great class and birth experience. I think the highest praise for a couple is when the dad stands in awe of his partner and the mama stands in awe of her coach 🙂
    Side note: most childbirth classes in our area run between $300-$350 dollars, regardless of length. The four-week Birthing from Within Class, the six-week hypno-babies/-birthing class, and the 12-week Bradley Method class…so our classes end up being a much better bargain, especially considering the amount of information we can share in those twelve weeks…turns out to be very $$ wise.
    Thank you for sharing your story, and best wishes to you as you continue to grow your family!!

  8. Pingback: The Bradley Method of Childbirth – still going strong | Real Food Houston

  9. Christy says:

    Great review! For the record, Husband-Coached Childbirth was written by Robert Bradley, not Michael Bradley. 🙂

  10. Andi says:

    I completely agree! I am constantly sharing the information with my friends and family. My husband and I are currently pregnant with our first, though, and are due mid-summer 2014.
    We are so excited to see how our birth turns out!! We have both agreed that the price for the classes does not even do it justice with the abundance of knowledge gained! Totally worth it.