If you’ve been considering a natural birth, you’ve likely heard about the Bradley Method ®. Like any childbirth class, the Bradley Method ® has its pros and cons.
1. PRO: Bradley Method ® classes offer 12 continuous weeks of in-class instruction.
When you participate in a Bradley class, you can expect to receive a wide range of information about pregnancy and childbirth. These instructor-led classes are brimming with information. You will learn about nutrition, the way the body changes during pregnancy, what to expect during labor, newborn care, and much more. Couples meet for 12 weeks in 2-2.5 hour class sessions, with additional outside reading offered.
CON: Some couples find Bradley Method ® classes to be way too long.
Many working couples are simply unable to fit a 12-week course into their busy schedules. Others find the experience of sitting through over 24 hours of childbirth classes to be overkill, and struggle to stay interested and engaged for so many weeks. If you’re not ready for the time commitment of a Bradley Method® class, consider a shorter natural childbirth class. Supplement with some reading on your own to cover simpler subjects that may not require formal instruction, such as pregnancy nutrition and prenatal exercise.
2. PRO: The Bradley Method ® emphasizes that birth is a natural process and promotes the value of natural childbirth.
If you have committed to the idea of an unmedicated birth, you are sure to find a supportive birth community in a Bradley® birth class. According to their official website, one goal of the Bradley Method ® is to “give babies the best possible start in life by teaching how to have a natural pregnancy and a natural childbirth.” The method suggests that natural childbirth is one way that moms can “give their babies every possible advantage,” and encourages couples to avoid “the side effects of drugs given during labor and birth.”
CON: Bradley Method® students are at risk of feeling like they “failed” if they do not have a natural birth.
If you choose pain medication or have a cesarean, Bradley’s® strong emphasis on the importance of natural birth over birth with an epidural may lead you to feel like you were less than successful. Said one Bradley ® mom of her medicated birth, “I felt robbed of my natural childbirth experience. I spent 12 weeks preparing for a natural childbirth only to choke at the last minute. I failed.” Feelings of shame, embarrassment, or disappointment unnecessarily cloud the amazing accomplishment of giving birth. Additionally, some Bradley educators use inaccurate information about the effects of pain medication in labor on mom and baby, which can encourage fear rather than informed decision-making.
3. PRO: In Bradley Method ® classes, couples learn to advocate for their natural birth when presented with labor interventions.
One of Bradley’s® 12 classes focuses exclusively on variations of normal labor and complications that can occur. The curriculum teaches couples “how to avoid these problems if possible, how to evaluate whether it is necessary to intervene, and how to handle interventions that become necessary.” Their goal is to empower couples to make informed choices during labor.
CON: Bradley Method ® classes have a reputation for creating militant couples that distrust their healthcare providers.
Bradley Method ® classes have a negative reputation of creating adversarial relationships between couples and their doctor or midwife, and nurses. I visit obstetricians and midwives regularly to talk about natural childbirth classes, and often hear this from the providers. They voice concern that Bradley Method® clients will be taught to view them as an enemy. They worry that birth partners are being trained to “protect” mom, even from medically necessary interventions. This negative perception is perpetuated by anti-medical viewpoints held by some individual Bradley® educators. It’s compounded by the occasional use fear-provoking videos in class that depict negative outcomes in the hospital, or outdated curriculum that warn couples about hospital interventions that are, in actuality, rarely ever used.
While natural childbirth is challenging experience, you can help prepare yourself by participating in a high-quality natural childbirth class. All classes have their pros and cons. Before committing to any one method, do your homework and find the childbirth class that best fits your birth philosophy.
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth!