69. All About The Bradley Method – Susan Martin AAHCC, CLEC, PPNE
"One of my favorite things is having people in my class who were Bradley babies themselves and are now taking a Bradley Method course to prepare for their own baby. What a testament to the wonderful impact of this childbirth preparation method!"
Your world suddenly turns on its axis when you’re pregnant. Navigating new terrain, you want to get the best information and naturally you start scrolling through the internet and social media. As you scour endless blog posts, forums, YouTube videos and Instagram posts, you suddenly realize there are so many opinions out there. How do you know what’s useful and what’s not? What’s the truth? How can you make sense of all that is out there and make sure you will be ready to birth this baby out of your body?
Coming to the rescue: high quality childbirth education. It quiets down the cacophony of internet overwhelm and the anxiety it produces by helping you hone in on what’s really needed to prepare for the upcoming birth of your little one as well as for early parenting. Quality is essential because there are a lot of options and not all prenatal education helps you prepare equally. As a professional who helps new parents get ready for these radical life changes, I teach the Bradley Method because I believe as an educator (and experienced mom), it’s the best and most comprehensive preparation available.
So, what is unique about the Bradley Method?
1) Proven track record
The Bradley Method has been positively impacting new family life for decades. We are well-known for helping couples prepare for a natural childbirth, but our classes are about so much more than the birth. Whether a family has a completely natural childbirth, uses medical intervention or needs a cesarean, my couples report back to me how instrumental preparing for all aspects of becoming a new family were to them – even years later. One of my favorite things is having people in my class who were Bradley babies themselves and are now taking a Bradley Method course to prepare for their own baby. What a testament to the wonderful impact of this childbirth preparation method!
2) 12 weeks
Before you balk at the commitment, take a moment and think about the advantages of preparing over this amount of time. The 12 weeks is based on the neuroscience of how our brains work. It takes that long to create new neural pathways, especially important in a culture where we are bombarded with negative and scary images of birth and parenting. This is also how long it takes to prepare for a marathon – which is a great analogy for labor and birth. In class you build up skill sets and knowledge from the ground up. This is preparation that is truly comprehensive.
3) Preparing the partner
We prepare the partner, or other close support person, to be able to support the pregnant mama during pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum. Dr. Bradley used the term “coach” to describe fathers so that they would know their role was an active one rather than that of a helpless bystander. I love using the word ”coach” because this can apply to fathers, same-sex partners and other support persons. Most childbirth classes are way too short to adequately prepare the partner to be a primary support person. Bradley classes build skills and give partners a roadmap starting in the very first class. This is the number one reason many couples take a Bradley Method course – so that the partners know how to be actively involved in the whole process.
4) Reducing fear and building confidence
We work on physical, mental and emotional preparation for the upcoming birth so that mothers can go into their labors feeling grounded and filled with confidence. Reducing fear is important as it can prolong labor and increase pain levels. Bringing a child into the world is a major life transition – being prepared can ease some of the challenges of this time period in your life.
5) Staying healthy and low-risk
Another great feature is we spend the first few classes covering doable actions each couple can take for the mother/baby pair to be healthy and low-risk, which is important no matter what type of birth is needed. We cover physical exercises to prepare the mother’s body for birth, optimal nutrition, relaxation exercises and much more for a healthy pregnancy which increases the odds of a good birth. The main goal of the course is to protect the health and well-being of the mother and baby. This starts in pregnancy and is a topic that is often neglected in a lot of childbirth classes and modern maternity care.
6) Positive communications with your birth team
Learning the terminology and options you have is crucial to having effective communications with your birth team and, ultimately, to being happier with the outcome of your birth. We want you to have a good relationship with your provider – midwife or obstetrician – so that you can get the best quality of care and make decisions that are right for your family. It’s hard to make good decisions if you have no idea what your options are. Being educated and prepared puts you in the best place to make choices that support your parenting goals.
7) Relationship and Connection
Class size is small and intimate so you get the personal attention you deserve. The 12 weeks allows pregnant mothers and partners the opportunity to really get to know their teacher and for her to be a source of support for them. You are not going to have a relationship with a trusted ally if you take a pre-recorded online class or a short hospital course. Many times couples have reached out to me when something comes up in their pregnancy or they unexpectedly need support in labor. In a Bradley Method series, you get to know your teacher and your teacher knows you.
I’m a big believer in education and preparation. I feel passionate about working with new families because I know that the best thing I can do is to help them be as ready as possible for the new little being coming into their lives. As Louis Pasteur once stated, “Chance only favors the prepared mind.”
Susan Martin AAHCC, CLEC, PPNE Is an experienced and compassionate childbirth/perinatal educator and doula. As a La Leche League Leader, she has been supporting breastfeeding mamas and babies for 21 years. She has a BA in Theater Arts and Psychology from UC Irvine and has continued her education as a student of life-long learning.
Areas of passionate interest and study include: empowering mothers and partners as they enter parenthood, the prevention of birth trauma, baby consciousness and how early life experiences shape who we become, the health and well-being of the family unit, and, most of all, how we can experience deep love and conscious relationships with each other. When not obsessively thinking about birth and babies, she enjoys cooking, dancing, walking in nature, reading, writing, and doing creative projects. The mother of two amazing young adult daughters, Susan lives and loves with her partner of 35 years in Los Angeles, California.