Some Bradley Questions — The Bump
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Some Bradley Questions

I have some questions about the Bradley method. DH and I are planning to do that and have read "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way".  We are not planning to take a class because they are just way too expensive for us. The book says that I should be laying down and relaxed during contractions, but I've read so much about how movement during contractions speeds up labor and I kind of like the idea of swaying with my husband, using a birthing ball, walking, etc... Is this stuff that you just don't do during Bradley? Or is the idea that once you get to the point where it is too painful to move around, then you lay down? Couldn't you still be fully relaxed on a birthing ball leaning on your DH? 

The other question is about making noise. I have heard that vocalizing low during contractions can help and I feel like I will probably want to vocalize. Is this okay during Bradley births or is vocalizing not relaxing your vocal cords, so to be avoided?

Thanks for any advice you can give!


Re: Some Bradley Questions

  • The laying down and relaxing is meant for later first stage labor-the point where you can't walk and talk through contractions. The relaxation techniques in Bradley are so focused in the book because that is the hardest part of labor to relax through and so practicing and getting in the habit can be very helpful.  I was on a birth ball and walking laps with my DH all through early labor. 
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  • i teach a different method, but i did take a bradley class with my first. hopefully, others will chime in if i have gotten anything wrong in my response!

    1. i believe bradley promotes movement in labor. there are positions for relaxation, which are to be used when needed, but active movement is supported in bradley.

    2. yes, you can be fully relaxed while moving! especially while your weight is being supported by DH, a birthing ball, a chair, etc. the best movement you can do is wide swaying of your hips, like you were belly dancing.

    3. bradley supports vocalizing. if you feel you need to, use deep, gutteral sounds. avoid high pitched sounds as this means you are sending your energy up and out your mouth and you want to send it down, towards your baby. this is how you end up with gutteral sounds. don't feel like you HAVE to vocalize though. i wasted a lot of energy in my first birth b/c i thought i was supposed to be vocalizing. when i stopped, i felt a lot better and i barely vocalized at all in labor #2 (different method, but still didn't feel i needed to vocalize).


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  • Thanks! Those were really helpful responses.
  • I read the same book for my natural birth, but wasn't comfortable laying down through my contractions.  I found I was most comfortable sitting in a chair (though for the life of me I couldn't tell you if it was the rockinng chair or the stationary one...) and DH sat next to me coaching me through the contrax.  When you are laboring, you will just have to find the most comfortable postition for you.
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  • I think the reason they have a lot of focus on relaxation while laying down is because in the hospital you don't always have the option of free movement, so that helps you work through contractions another way. If you can move and want to, they really encourage it.
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  • I think the emphasis on laying down during labor is a little old school and my Bradley instructor didn't really encourage it. When you're in early stage labor and if you can still sleep between your contractions, then it's recommended that you make use of that opportunity to rest as much as possible - you have a lot of work ahead of you - and that may mean laying on your side or at least sitting.

    When you're in active labor or transition, or if it just feels good to move around, the Bradley method encourages that and in the class, we practiced contractions in different positions - move in & out of different positions as it feels good to you. The whole idea of relaxing & staying mobile (=one of the biggest benefits of being med-free IMO) is that it should make labor easier for you & baby and help labor progress more quickly. So go ahead and use the birthing ball, stool, a tub, get on all fours, etc. 

    In terms of making noise - in my class, we were just encouraged to be free to go either way - if it feels good to make noise, go ahead but the main focus of Bradley is to breathe deeply & relax so hopefully these are relaxation noises/releases, not shouting that would expel unnecessary energy & make you short of breathe. Again, the idea is to save your energy for the pushing part.

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  • PPs already mentioned it, but laying down and relaxing during contractions should be one of several positions in your labor managment bag of tricks. In the classes, at least in my class, my instructor introduced and focused on a variety of labor positions. A key is to change positions when they are no longer effective and productive. My instructor gave us all a one-sheet with a number of labor positions. PM me if you're interested and I will send it to you.

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  • My Bradley instructor is of the "whatever works for you" school.  If laying down is helpful, do it.  If walking is helpful, do it.  The only things that are discouraged are: tensing up the face or body as this makes the contractions more painful,and shallow breathing as this can lead to hyperventalation.  Vocalizations are encouraged if they help ease the pain, however, the typical "labor screaming" is discouraged (it uses a lot of oxygen and typically isn't helpful).
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