Natural Birth

If only one is an option: Doula or Bradley Classes?

I really would like to have a natural birth and am considering a doula or bradley classes. I am planning on giving birth in a hospital with an OB. Ideally I would love to be able to afford a doula and bradley childbirth classes but I don't think that is a possibility. If you had to pick one or the other in hope of having a natural childbirth which one would you pick?
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Re: If only one is an option: Doula or Bradley Classes?

  • I picked a doula.

    I didn't want to spend the time on Bradley, though. I like my Saturdays. 

    The doula was fantastic. She was very reassuring and DH wants to hire her again for #2.

    There isn't a right and wrong answer; for me, I was happy to read and educate myself on my own. I wanted someone with me on the real-deal day, not for the weeks and months before that and NOT on the actual delivery day.

  • That's a really hard choice! I loved both our doula and our Bradley classes. If I had to choose only one though, I would have to pick hiring a doula.

    Something to consider is that your doula might include a session or two to go over things before the birth. My doula will use this time as almost like mini childbirth session if the couple didn't take any classes. You could also look to see if any of the local Bradley instructors are doulas as well. Our doula was also our Bradley instructor.

    ETA: GL! And let us know what you ultimately decide!

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  • Reeeally hard choice for me to make.  Hm.  I feel like a doula probably overall can provide more help at the end game, but our Bradley classes were such a great bonding and growing experience for my H and me, and gave us SO much to think and talk about every week.  I guess I would go with doula b/c like I said, I think it's ultimately what is more likely to help you achieve the birth you want.  But I found so much value in Bradley classes too, so not an easy choice at all.

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  • I picked the Bradley classes, and I was very happy with my choice.
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  • I chose Bradley classes. My reasoning was that Bradley is "husband-coached childbirth," so it should train HIM to BE a doula. Which it did - he was fabulous and everything I needed!
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  • I would suggest going with the Bradley Method.  I used the Bradley method with our first birth 2 years ago; this pregnancy we repeated a few of the classes as a "refresher" and will use the method again.  I haven't used a doula, so I can't speak to personal experience on that.  

     I vote Bradley Method because childbirth is something you really need to prepare for both mentally and physically.  For me, having had a natural (unmedicated, vaginal, no interventions at all) childbirth, I feel like it helps to do some things ahead of time to prepare yourself for the birth.  I'm sure you're aware of all of what the Bradley method covers since you're considering it, but most importantly to me it taught me HOW to relax and how to mentally stay in control during labor.  Although I'm sure support from a doula helps, and I'm sure they have great ideas on how to relax, I'm not sure it would give you the same mental preparation for birth that a 12 week course does.

    I would recommend considering what type of person you are in terms of needs when you face a tough situation.  Do you find strength from within?  Or do you need support and encouragement from another person?  Could you remember what to do and apply techniques for relaxation?  Or do you need someone (like a doula) helping you through it (although with Bradley, technically the husband should be coaching you - but I found it to be a very "inside yourself" experience)

     Finally, no matter how great a doula is, I just wasn't comfortable having someone else there during our special moment of the birth of our child.  I personally don't like relying on ANYONE and so I liked the independence Bradley method offered me in terms of preparing myself for childbirth. 

  • I already had a doctor and a nurse there. It's not like it was my husband and I in a magical forest all by ourselves.

    Really, this is one of those "there are two kinds of people" things. The thought of 12 weeks of Bradley classes made both DH and I bored. I got the birth I was aiming for, and I think the doula helped that. Not taking classes doesn't mean I didn't prepare. I read a lot, I did prenatal yoga (I did some yoga before I was pg as well), and we had 3 prenatal meetings with the doula to talk about what I wanted and how to get that.

  • We went with the doula. Our decision was based largely on watching my sister learn Bradley (I mean really learn it) with her first pregnancy and then, when the time cam and things got intense, she struggled to implement the skills on her own. It seemed like having a support there "in the moment" was key. Our Doula also practiced various techniques with us and has been a resource for us before l&d so we feel like we've gotten as much education pre-deljvery as we could hope for!
  • With DS1, we had both and I think both were worth it because we were in a mainstream hospital with a mainstream OB. We benefitted from the education of the Bradley classes (esp. DH)  and the doula helped us process through the options when things got hairy and helped sustain DH though my multi-day labor. In the mainstream hospital situation, I would see about minimizing other purchases (baby or otherwise) to afford both.

    For a non-hospital birth, I would say Bradley over a doula. We didn't need a doula with our CPM because we were aligned on our views, trusting in the birth process, etc. we had two birth assistants there, DH was very confident in his coaching because he'd done it before and because the birth team was so supportive and trustworthy.

  • I had both and would not have had the natural birth I did without the class and the doula.  Since you cannot have both I would evaluate your situation. If you DH is really on board with a natural birth and want to be the main coach and supporter-then take the class.  The class will give him lots of information and tools to be a great coach during labor.  If your DH is not really into the whole natural birth and does not seem really interested in being the main coach-then get a doula.  The doula will help you through the process and will also be able to help DH help you during labor. 
  • We are getting both.  Our doula is also our Bradley teacher.  She is working on her certification, so she is not charging us for her doula services, only the classes.  It really is worth looking around for a doula that might be working on her certification that will either do it for free or much cheaper.  

    If you had to pick one though, I would definitely go with a doula.  The Bradley method (and other natural methods) have lots of books that you can read in order to educate and prepare yourself. 

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  • I think this depends on what you think your biggest challenges to natural birth will be.  While I totally respect the Bradley method, teaching myself to relax through pain is something I've already had the happy experience of learning on my own.  (yay?)  So I didn't feel that I needed the classes for that, and I prefer learning the "fundamentals" of birth and stuff on my own, reading.  At the same time, I found a midwife I trust in a hospital that is pretty natural-birth friendly and I am confident in my husband's abilities to coach and provide support.  Having constant support is huge--randomized trials have shown it reduces the use of pain medications and epidurals to have a support person present the whole time.  But that may or may not be a doula.  All that to say--I chose neither.

    So--I think it depends totally on you.  I spent the "prep" money on books since that's how I learn best. 

    Out of curiosity--would a birth center or a hospital birth with a midwife be an option?  Not that choosing an ob is wrong, but your question almost made it seem like you were trying to "make up" for being in a hospital with an ob with either Bradley or a doula--if that isn't really what you want, is investigating other options a possibility?

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  • I would probably pick a doula.

    I coped with my 3 natural births all in very different ways so I'd be worried that if I took a Bradley course but it wasn't working for me in labor, I'd be lost. A doula, however, would be more flexible and accommodating for however I need to cope through labor. 

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  • Doula all the way! I gave birth yesterday all natural, perfect!, and I know that even though we did a ton of prep for the birth, without our doula I would not have been able to have my ideal birth.
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  • imageHyaline:

    Out of curiosity--would a birth center or a hospital birth with a midwife be an option?  Not that choosing an ob is wrong, but your question almost made it seem like you were trying to "make up" for being in a hospital with an ob with either Bradley or a doula--if that isn't really what you want, is investigating other options a possibility?

    I chose a hospital and an OB bc I have a bicornuate uterus and there is a possibility of needing a c-section if the baby gets stuck in a breech position. I didn't want to have to switch last minute from a mw to an ob and from a birth center to a hospital. Ideally I would have loved a home birth with a mid-wife but due to my condition I thought it would be safer to go this route the first time. In hoping that I won't need a c-section I wanted to best prepare myself for a natural birth.

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  • FTM here...I'm delivering in a hospital with an OB. I'm taking Bradley Classes and not hiring a doula.
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  • Doula and prenatal yoga!

    DS1 - Feb 2008

    DS2 - Oct 2010 (my VBAC baby!)

  • imagetokenhoser:

    I already had a doctor and a nurse there. It's not like it was my husband and I in a magical forest all by ourselves.

    Really, this is one of those "there are two kinds of people" things. The thought of 12 weeks of Bradley classes made both DH and I bored. I got the birth I was aiming for, and I think the doula helped that. Not taking classes doesn't mean I didn't prepare. I read a lot, I did prenatal yoga (I did some yoga before I was pg as well), and we had 3 prenatal meetings with the doula to talk about what I wanted and how to get that.

    Agree.  I read the Bradley book along with several others, took prenatal yoga classes, a birthing partner workshop with my H, and learned a lot from meetings with my doula.   I was very well prepared without childbirth classes, and my doula made all the difference!

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  • I can't speak to experience since I'm a FTM, but we've chosen Bradley without a doula. I'm delivering in a hospital with a MW. Like you, it's just such a huge expense for us (we'd have to pull money out of savings) and we really can't justify both. I feel confident that DH can be my coach and I also plan on laboring at home as long as possible (hopefully I won't be GBS+) since my hospital is literally 2 miles down the road. I'll let you know in 10ish weeks how it goes...
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  • imagesweettalkin417:

    ETA: GL! And let us know what you ultimately decide!

    We met with a doula tonight we really like so I think we are going to go with a doula. I feel like we could use the extra support. 

     

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  • We did both and we thought both were worth it. Have you asked around, often times Bradley instructors are doulas. They may be willing to negotiate the cost with you.

    What does your DH think? Is he even willing to go to classes?

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  • imageCurbsideProphet:

    We did both and we thought both were worth it. Have you asked around, often times Bradley instructors are doulas. They may be willing to negotiate the cost with you.

    What does your DH think? Is he even willing to go to classes?

    DH was willing to go to classes. He was unsure in his ability to be everything I needed. We also would have to miss at least one class no matter which class we did. The instructors I found are not doulas.

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  • Doula, definitely. I didn't attend any child birth classes, yet I still did fine totally winging it. I mean, I did a lot of my own research and reading up on natural child birthing and so on, but I didn't practice anything. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, I figured out on my own what positions and so on worked to manage the pain. But you probably will hit a point during labor where you're not going to respond well or even acknowledge that someone is talking to you, so you might want a knowledgeable person as your advocate on your side. Particularly one that already has a good professional rapport with the hospital staff.
  • I did both. If I HAD to pick I'd pick the doula. I can get the information I got from the Bradley class from anywhere. And while it was great to have DH so on board which would not have happened without the classes, when things went south he became useless. Having an objective third party there was invaluable. She was awesome and I'd never give birth without a doula.
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  • imageSallySunrise:
    imagetokenhoser:

    I already had a doctor and a nurse there. It's not like it was my husband and I in a magical forest all by ourselves.

    Really, this is one of those "there are two kinds of people" things. The thought of 12 weeks of Bradley classes made both DH and I bored. I got the birth I was aiming for, and I think the doula helped that. Not taking classes doesn't mean I didn't prepare. I read a lot, I did prenatal yoga (I did some yoga before I was pg as well), and we had 3 prenatal meetings with the doula to talk about what I wanted and how to get that.

    Agree.  I read the Bradley book along with several others, took prenatal yoga classes, a birthing partner workshop with my H, and learned a lot from meetings with my doula.   I was very well prepared without childbirth classes, and my doula made all the difference!

    Also, this. There are ways to prepare without taking a class. And while preparation is great, there is a lot to be said for having someone there in the moment...and the nurses did NOT help me like my doula did.  

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