Now that I’ve touted the benefits of a childbirth class, let’s compare the two most popular methods, and their differences.
Perhaps the best known of all childbirth classes is Lamaze. Developed in the 1940’s, in France by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, this method’s main attribute is distraction from pain. Lamaze is:
- Based on belief that labor requires focus and energy
- Gives mother tools to ease and manage pain as it occurs, and to save energy during periods of non-contraction
- Encourages “distraction”, thinking of pleasant memories to keep mind from focusing on pain
- Encourages changing positions, birthing balls, massage, etc. to allow mother to manage pain
- Teaches communication with healthcare providers so that needs can be met
- Educates parents about epidurals and pain management using painkillers
- Educates parents on complications that might arise during birth and the medical interventions that may be necessary to address those complications
- Inclusive of other options for childbirth
The Bradley Method, also developed in the 1940's by obstetrician Robert Bradley, relies on the main attribute of “controlling” pain:
- Focuses on breathing and relaxation techniques to help mother cope with pain during labor
- Relies directly on the husband/partner for “coaching” during labor
- Teaches nutrition and exercise
- Educates parents on different stages of labor and what to expect during each stage
- Advocates “tuning in” to your body during labor
- Quotes 90% of Bradley trained mothers give birth un-medicated
- Avoidance of any drugs before, during and after labor
- Discusses emergency situations requiring intervention and C-section
There is a great website
that can give you more information on birth choices.
Again, you need to reach deep and think about what type of person you are under pressure; because believe me giving birth is stressful, physically, and emotionally. It will bring you to a place physically that you cannot describe (both good and bad;) so don’t let me scare you, even though it hurt like hell, it was the single greatest thing I’ve ever done.
If I could relive any day of my life, any hour, it would be the hours I spent giving birth to my sons. And it will wipe you out emotionally; the anxiety, the joy, sometimes the surprising monster that screams at your husband that you will “twist his face off if he comes near you,” things like that...it does leave you spent.
I can tell you that no matter what class you take, it will HURT, so don’t imagine that any class will give you the super human ability to “control” the pain. The only thing that “controls” (i.e. makes the pain go away) is drugs, so if you think you might want 'em, the Lamaze does accommodate that possibility more than the Bradley. On the other hand, if you are steadfast in your resolve to go drug free, Bradley will give you the foundation.
But remember, no matter what you decide, the ultimate goal isn’t natural childbirth. The ultimate goal is delivering a healthy baby, as easily and calmly as possible, so be open to all that happens along the way.
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