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Bud: Week 17

March 2, 2011

If you are interested in having a natural (read: drug-free, vaginal delivery) childbirth, I highly recommend Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon. I checked it out of our library a month ago and have learned so much more about childbirth even after having two of my own and reading several other childbirth books.

Let me start with my only two negatives of this book. First, although it is a revised edition, it was published in 1996. Needless to say much of the information about hospitals in the book is outdated. The actual Bradley Method, however, is not. For example: I believe most hospitals now have “birthing rooms” instead of the old “labor room” and then wheeling you off to a different “delivery room” for the actual delivery of the baby. Since I know very well the policies my hospital, the outdated hospital talk didn’t bother me much.

The only other negative is that it will be very difficult for this method to work for you if you don’t have a husband (or at least a friend) who is willing to be there to support you. By support, I don’t mean someone to fetch you more ice chips or get you another pillow. I mean actively taking part in the labor. Ok, well as actively as he can anyhow….=) Bradley named his method “Husband Coached Childbirth.” That should tell you right there that he believes the husband ought be the primary supporter. In fact, this book is written to the coach, not to the mother.

I am very grateful to have that supportive husband who is willing to give this all a try.

Oh yes, one other possible negative about the book. There are real pictures of  nude women laboring and giving birth along with pencil sketches. I was fine with the sketches to illustrate certain positions and excercises, but didn’t really feel comfortable with my husband looking at any other women besides me, so I just grabbed a bunch of sticky notes and gave them a “blanket.”

So besides those couple of things, the book was extremely helpful to me in understanding the normal process of childbirth. McCutcheon did a great job of explaining the how’s and why’s of it all. There were several eye opening moments for me when I read about different things you could do in difficult laboring situations. Bruiser started off sideways and had difficulty turning to be face-down. It’s why I  ended up with a vacuum extraction (that and 4 hours of pushing). Had I not had an epidural, there were two other positions I could have tried that are very successful in turning a baby. It is very possible that I could have avoided an episiotomy and vacuum delivery, had I known about those options and had a doctor who was supportive of me.

If I could sum-up the Bradley Method in my own words it would be this:

Childbirth is a natural and normal process. God designed a woman’s body to labor and deliver the baby. Childbirth goes best when the mother works with her contractions instead of against them. She does this by staying completely relaxed with the help of her husband, not by trying to cover the muscle contractions with pain medication. Staying relaxed is a learned process that must be practiced often before labor begins. The mother should be allowed to labor in a comfortable situation and to progress at her own rate without intervention. Medical intervention usually leads to another medical intervention and should only be used in emergency situations. (No routine EFM, IV, episiotomy, epidural etc…)

If you are pregnant, or are thinking about it, I would highly recommend reading this book. I suppose if it turns out that you hate it, you’ll at least know that’s not the way for you!





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