Childbirth. When you’re pregnant for the first time, it is both inevitable and unknowable. But thanks to TLC and the Discovery Channel, our heads are filled with lots of images and expectations. I certainly had watched my share of The Baby Story prior to being pregnant, but also had happened upon the movie The Business of Being Born. This documentary got me wondering if the modern take on childbirth was really that enlightened. I read some books on the subject and started to feel that our society was overmedicalizing one of humankind’s most natural processes.
When I became pregnant for the first time, a good friend told me about her experiences with The Bradley Method (full name The Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth.) I liked that the course was substantial (twelve 2 hour classes), focused on pregnancy, birth, and parenting, and that it would be something Jacob and I could experience together.
From the classes and the accompanying texts, I took away so much! I learned daily exercises that helped strengthen my body for labor, I learned how to improve my prenatal nutrition, and I learned what happens in labor and why. This last piece was key as it helped me trust my body and its own mechanisms for birth. I wanted a birth free from interventions and medications because I believed that my body would perform most optimally on its own and I wanted to trust in that process.
My first labor (son Jack) was 27 hours. It progressed gradually with the intensity of the contractions building slowly. My husband encouraged me to eat dinner, go on a walk, take a bath, and then go to bed. This ensured I got some sleep before the contractions had me up for good at 2:30 a.m. We decided to go to the hospital around 1:00 p.m and I was still pretty calm. By mid-afternoon, things got pretty intense (as those of you who’ve had a baby before know, it ain’t no picnic!) and I gradually became less focused and more unsure. I attribute the education I got in the Bradley courses to getting myself within hours of Jack’s birth with no thought of any intervention. I credit the Bradley courses educating and empowering my husband to getting us the final distance. Jacob was convinced I could do it and kept encouraging me all the way to the end (8:38 p.m.). As soon as I pushed Jack out, the pain ceased and I felt such a high, and physically felt so good! And look at the end result!
Since Jack’s birth, I’ve felt proud of delivering him naturally, but said “next time, I hope to do it with more grace.” (Full disclosure: I screamed “I want do die” more times than I’d like to admit while having him.) During my second pregnancy (daughter Cora), I reread my Bradley book and did the daily exercises. I also switched to Woman to Woman Midwifery and benefited from the excellent care and encouragement of Esther deJong and Cathy Badeaux.
Cora came fast and all of a sudden. I had thought I might be in labor the afternoon/evening before, but wasn’t sure until 2:30 in the morning. I got up, then thinking that this would be another slow labor, but within 30 minutes, my contractions were coming right on top of one another. My coach got us out of the house by 3:49 with me dropping to the floor every other minute to get through contractions. We dropped Jack off at a friend’s house and parked at Touro at 4:05. Cora was born at 4:38 a.m. It was intense, but because it was so much quicker, I felt much more present and in control this time. I remember distinctly thinking, if I can just push this baby out, then this pain will go away. And it did and look what I got in return!
If you want to feel more empowered about your birth, I suggest The Bradley Method courses. Education is empowerment and that’s what these classes offer. They also help you physically and mentally prepare for your birth and they position you and your partner (doesn’t have to be a husband) to be ready to work as a team.
To sign up for a local class, reach out to one of these two lovely ladies:
Kimberly R. Davis (and husband James)
- www.bradleybirth.com/kimberlydavis OR http://www.facebook.com/teamjkl
- Upcoming classes starting November 7, 2012 and February 20, 2013 in the Garden District area
Amy Warner (and husband Dave)
Upcoming classes starting August 30, 2012 and December 6, 2012 in Algiers Point