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I don't know a whole lot about Bradley, but am in Hypnobirthing classes and am really enjoying it. I am definitely looking forward to the birth and feel like the classes are really preparing me. My husband is also enjoying/learning a lot. Hypnobirthing teaches you to eliminate the fear to also eliminate unnecessary pain. I've learned some invaluable things to help keep me calm and centered. The more I researched it, the more I felt like it was right for me! I'd recommend seeking out any testimonials from mothers who used hypnobirthing...they say alot!
I think Bradley is also probably great, but, can't speak from experience about it.
I took both. I think both were really helpful but I feel that Bradley was for me, much more effective and more realistic. Although, I did enjoy the Hypnobirthing classes. For me it was not realistic to have a totally "pain-free" birth. I don't feel like hypnobirthing gives you the tools to deal with intense pain once you are in it....it is all about never being in pain. Hope that helps!! Also Bradley was an AWESOME bonding experience for me and DH and we met other couples that we are still friends with. In fact we are having the whole class over to our house this weekend.
I started teaching the Bradley Method after having some terrible side effects from an epidural for myself & my baby with my first child and then studying the BM and having a wonderful natural birth experience with my 2nd son.
What I love so much about Bradley is that it is all very common sense. Nature/God (whatevery you like to believe) has a way of doing things for good reason. Going against nature usually leads to unpleasant outcomes but learning to work with nature, learning to trust your body, understanding what is happening during labor & birth can lead to a peaceful, beautiful birth experience.
Like the other moms mentioned, husbands act as coaches and are really involved in the classes so they can be prepared to help their wives/partners get through labor. Relaxation is the key for pain management. Just like you must train your muscles for any physical activity, so you can train your muscles to relax. Much of the class is spent on all of the different options you have for your birth and making sure you choose the right healthcare provider to support you. Nutrition & exercise also play a huge role in keeping the mother healthy & low-risk.
A good place to start researching is www.bradleybirth.com . One of the key things that sets Bradley apart from other methods is their extremely high rate of natural, med-free births - 86%!
I like how Bradley focuses on deep relaxation and working with your body instead of against it. Susan McCutcheon's book is really helpful. I'm not really familiar with hypnobirthing, but the birth stories of moms who used it sound amazing....but almost too good to be true? I just don't know :) Bradley seems more realistic for me.
We decided on Bradley because I felt it was more realistic for us. I know there will be pain, and I don't think I can convince myself otherwise, no matter how relaxed I am. Plus, I am really liking the bonding experience of the Bradley classes, how it's bringing me and my DH very close with exercises and practice, etc. We haven't put it to use yet in actual birth, but I am confident that I'm getting very useful information.
It IS a lot of classes, though! Bradley covers not only childbirth, but pregnancy exercises, nutrition, postpartum, breastfeeding... many women can't commit to all 11 weeks. So if you just want to focus on the birth aspect and do breastfeeding/post-partum care classes separately, then maybe you should consider that as well.