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of Natural Childbirth
The Bradley Method of natural childbirth (also known as "husband-coached childbirth") is a method of natural childbirth created by Robert A. Bradley, M.D. (1917–1998) and popularized by his book Husband-Coached Childbirth, first published in 1965. The Bradley Method emphasizes that birth is a natural process: mothers are encouraged to trust their body and focus on diet and exercise throughout pregnancy; and it teaches couples to manage labor through deep breathing and the support of a partner or labor coach.
Teachers of The Bradley Method believe that - with adequate preparation, education and help from a loving, supportive coach - most women can give birth naturally, without drugs or surgery. The Bradley Method emphasizes measures that can be taken to help keep women healthy and low-risk in order to avoid complications that may lead to medical intervention.
The primary goal of The Bradley Method is healthy mothers and healthy babies. The method holds that, in most circumstances, a natural (drug-free) childbirth is the best way to achieve that goal. Proponents of The Bradley Method claim that 86% of Bradley mothers have vaginal births without drugs. The classes teach nutrition, relaxation and natural breathing as pain management techniques along with active participation of the husband as coach. Parents-to-be are taught to be knowledgeable consumers of birth services and to take responsibility in making informed decisions regarding procedures, attendants and the birth place.
The "Method" itself is first of all an application of what Dr. Bradley termed "the six needs of the laboring woman," most notably deep and complete relaxation and abdominal breathing, but also including quiet, darkness and solitude, physical comfort, and closed eyes and the appearance of sleep. Secondly, The Bradley Method relies heavily on training fathers to be labor "coaches," or partners. The Bradley Method teachers usually supplement these primary techniques with training in different labor positions and comfort measures. In order to master the ability to relax completely as a pain relief tool, couples are taught several different relaxation techniques and encouraged to practice relaxation daily, so that the mother can rely on a conditioned relaxation response to her partner's voice and touch.
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