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Is the Bradley method right for me?
Q: What can you tell me about the Bradley childbirth method? I'm pregnant for the first time and want to deliver naturally. I heard that this method deals with the emotional and physical changes during labor.
A: If your goal is to deliver your baby using natural labor techniques, the Bradley method may be helpful. It's a series of 12 childbirth preparation classes that encourages self-awareness and emphasizes natural breathing combined with relaxation techniques, excellent nutrition, positive communication and strong involvement of your husband or coach. Rather than trying to block out the pain of childbirth, Bradley encourages women to tune into their own bodies and become aware of the process of childbirth.

Dr. Bradley developed his technique in the 1960s in response to a medical system that emphasized drug use and failed to encourage family support. He encouraged active participation of the coach and discouraged the use of drugs or painkillers. To cope with labor, Dr. Bradley recommends quiet, darkness, relaxation, closed eyes, controlled breathing and emotional support. Activities during labor include walking, swaying, leaning and squatting. Immediate and continuous contact with newborns is encouraged, including breast-feeding soon after birth. Classes educate parents on responsible decision-making and prepare them for unexpected situations such as cesarean sections or emergency childbirth.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist