Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Bradley Method

David and I are taking this childbirth classes focused on The Bradley Method.  They're named for Dr. Robert Bradley, but I also have a twenty-one year old cousin named Bradley, so the name of the class sometimes makes us laugh because I don't know what Cousin Bradley's method for childbirth would be, but I guarantee it wouldn't require twelve weeks of classes with homework.

The Bradley Method is subtitled "Husband Coached Childbirth" (which is nice, sure, but clearly a bit outdated).  It focuses on relaxation methods and other natural strategies for pain management (massage, peaceful breathing, etc.).  Over 80% of couples who complete the classes are able to deliver their babies without medical intervention (drugs, epidural, c-section).  As someone trying to avoid that epidural needle, you'd better believe that I'm willing to give twelve weeks of class a try.

Anyway, we started last week.  There are six couples, all of us due in January or early February.  Two expecting girls, two expecting boys, two waiting to be surprised.  No one in the class appears to be a total freak although there is definitely one slightly weird couple and we definitely sat right next to them because I have a kind of radar that attracts mosquitoes and also weird people when we go anywhere.

David and I walked into class and got our packet of materials--a book by midwife Ina May Gaskin, a three-ring binder of supplementary readings xeroxed from magazines, websites, etc., a Bradley Method workbook, and a folder with the class syllabus and homework assignments.  Also a free pen.  As we found our seats, I glanced at the display of additional "recommended reading" books that were at the front of the room.  I had already read all of them.

I clutched the stack of school supplies to my chest belly and leaned over to David.

"You know how I go watch you pitch at your ballgames and you're pretty good?"

"Um, yeah?"

"You're in my world now!"

I am so nerdy.  I love being the student.  It's like even more fun than being the teacher because it's less work.

So in our first class we discussed exercises for pregnancy and a little about nutrition in pregnancy.  Bradley Method makes a big deal about women getting enough protein.  They want us to get 70-100 grams a day.  For a vegetarian, at least for this one, that is almost unheard of.  I've started reading the packages of everything.  Peanutbutter sandwiches are a good thing because the bread I got is 5 grams/slice and once you slather on peanutbutter, you can hit almost 20 with just a sandwich.  But for me to get even close to 70 grams a day, I have to drink a protein shake in the morning.  So David has been dutifully making me a fruit smoothie with protein powder every single morning and I have been dutifully slurping them down (they're actually very good).

We talked about questions you should ask your doctor.  I had done a lot of reading ahead of time, so I tried to keep myself from blurting out the answer every time she asked a question, lest I become that girl in class.  I was relieved that my doctor is on the list of Bradley-Method-Recommended doctors in our area.  I was also told by the instructor that the hospital we plan to deliver at is the best in the area for natural births.  Two points for us! 

We did a few exercises in class--we practice tailor sitting, squatting, pelvic rock (essentially the cat/cow in yoga), butterfly, and side relaxation.  We talked about kegels (Seriously she must have said the words "pelvic floor" like twenty-five times in five minutes.  And then when she gestured toward her own pelvic floor, I was like OMG we all know where it's located!).  I do like the instructor though.  She's not too crunchy, by which I mean she was wearing make up. 

Our homework for the week including reading assignments, keeping track of what we eat (adding up the grams of protein everyday), and watching a DVD.  David and I watched the DVD Sunday night.  I was glad we did not watch it in class because we are both far too immature to not giggle at certain parts.  Like after the baby was born and trying to nurse and the dad told the baby that the mom had good nipples.  However, I definitely paid attention to the documentary when it reported that a recent study asked women who had just had babies to rank their level of pain.  Women who had epidurals and women who had doulas (but no epidurals) ranked their pain level the same.

Maybe I'm clutching at straws here, but that made me feel a little more confident about my ability to do this. 

A nagging little voice in the back of my head wonders what the point of all of these classes will be if I end up having to have a c-section or having to be induced or any number of other scenarios that are totally out of my control.  But still.  I think it will be worth it to be totally prepared.  To know what all of my choices are and to be able to discuss them with my doctor instead of being told what is going to happen.  So for now, I am putting myself in enthusiastic student mode (which is much more fun than irritated and frustrated teacher mode, where I found myself yet again at University B yesterday).  And I guess in about twelve weeks we will learn how this all shakes out.

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