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Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth

Blog

10 Wishes For Your Birth and Beyond

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM Comments comments (0)
It’s hard to believe…and I know, I say this every three months – Time Flies!  We are almost finished with another class series.  As we get ready to send another set of Papas and Pods off into the world to prepare for the arrival of their Sweet Peas, I wanted to write our “Wish List” for their Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

What we hope you will remember:
1.  You are a team.
As a couple, you lovingly conceived your child.  You have attended a trimester of Bradley Method® classes together to learn about the normal, low-risk process of pregnancy, labor and birth.  Trust in the information you learned together; use the communication skills you learned and practiced in class.  Fill your toolbox full of comfort measures and relaxation techniques with daily practice.  All that information will be available when you need it.  

2.  You hired a care provider you trust.
As long as mom and baby are doing well in labor, and as long as your care provider supports you, then mamas are free to eat, drink, move, sleep, and use a shower or tub as needed.  Both of you have an inner voice, an instinct that will tell you what your body/ your partner needs and what needs to happen to stay the course you planned and prepared for.  

4.  You need to sleep!
Mamas:  If you want to allow your labor to stay healthy and low risk, you need to rest.  Along with that, you need to eat when you are hungry, and drink *before* you are thirsty. Dr. Bradley called the woman in labor an, “obstetrical athlete”.  In order to perform with peak strength and stamina, a mother has the best opportunity for the outcome she wants if she has rested, is full of bioavailable fuel, and is hydrated to the point of efficiency for all the hormones that are at work during the process of labor.  She has set herself up for an intervention-free outcome.  If the mother gets too tired and too weak, then she and her partner will be making different choices.  
Coaches:  You need to sleep because you will not have the surge of endorphins that mama gets for her “second wind”.  You will be laboring just as long as mama is – so take care of yourself so you can support her.  Remember to take a few phone numbers of assistant coaches that you can call in for back up, if and when you need reinforcements to run errands or energize your labor.

5.  You can do this!
Coaches:  Your words, your touch, and your love are “the something” she needs. Always have three options available in the back of your mind when you offer a comfort measure – one of them will resonate with your partner.  Know which relaxation exercises your partner likes, and have few more in your toolbox to use if/when those stop working.  Remember the core of her that attracted you to your partner in the first place?  Remind her of that when she needs encouragement.  You are about to see raw female energy – embrace it and help her find the courage to surrender to the energy of labor that needs no intervention or help from the conscious mind.

7. You are the consumer with three magic questions.
Whether you are at home, a birth center, or the hospital, you will come to decision points in your labor.  There are two separate pages in the workbook where we outline questions for informed consent and provide a study help for families to evaluate which path they would want to take if and when they face those decision points in their labor.  If you forget your workbook and/or memorizing the list of questions is not “in the cards”, we wish you will remember these three “magic questions”:
Is Mom okay?  (“YES”)
Is Baby okay?  (“YES”)
Since they are both okay, may we just have some more time?  (Usually, “NEGOTIATE”)

If there is no medical reason for an intervention, patience is often the choice that our students make in the interest of avoiding a cascade of interventions: agreeing to one intervention may lead to another, to another, etc.

All the couples that complete our Bradley™ series attend with the intention of having an intervention-free birth.  Very rarely, you get a “NO” answer to one of the, “Are they okay,” questions.  In your case, it may become apparent that you need to go down a different path for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  Please take it – there are no medals for having a natural birth at all costs.  You will not regret the choices that are made out of love for the mother and child in order to ensure that they are both well after labor and birth.  You may need time to process your birth story, however, having a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby is the outcome we wish for all of our families.

8. You have a support system.
A normal, low-risk labor and birth is followed by a period of euphoria before reality sets in.  If you have some interventions and/or a cesarean, there may be a mix of euphoria and grieving for the birth you did not have.  

Then, reality sets in:  you have a new life that is completely dependent on you.  I have written in more detail about the postpartum period 
HERE.  Please seek out resources and a community to help you through the first six months to a year – you are not alone!  Your Bradley™ classmates are one source of community.  Beyond that, there are support groups for breastfeeding, postpartum depression, cesarean recovery, and more.

9.  You need to sleep!
Sleep is essential for Mama so that she can heal, make milk, and have the emotional reserves to make the transition to being a mother of one, two, three+ children.  Coaches, you need to sleep so that can put your happy face on and be helpful when she wakes up for the night feedings, the extra stops at the store on the way home from work, and anything else that mama may ask of you as you both transition to life as parents.

10. Your baby is counting on you.
Your child will not have words to express themselves for several months.  You are your child’s best advocate.  Consumerism continues beyond your pregnancy and birth.  Newborn procedures, infant standards of care, parenting choices:  these are all part of your “new normal”.  Which choices work for your family?  There is no book that is a manual for raising your child.  Your child is your best teacher.  Look to the books for ideas; use the ones that work for your family and toss out the rest of them.  You two are the best resource – your baby carries your genetic code – trust the process and the genes.  You will know how to best parent your child when you honor and respect them as human beings first.  We invite you to parent from a place of love now and forever.

What tips would you share with a couple preparing for labor and birth?
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted.  *I think* that the amount of traffic you so generously generate has led to a lot of spam posting.  In an effort to keep the spam to a minimum, I am taking the time to moderate comments now. 

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
Disclaimer:  
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Top Ten Reasons To Take A Bradley Method® Class

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 6:46 AM Comments comments (0)
Top Ten List: Reasons To Take A Bradley Method® Class

     We had the privilege of starting two new Bradley Method® Class Series last week.  We are teaching a Friday night series with First-time parents, and on Sunday we are teaching our Bradley Method® "Next Class" with alumni families who are expecting baby number two. 
     Some of the thoughts shared when we asked our students "why are you here today" inspired today's post.  The first time moms who have been hearing that they are "crazy" because they want to "go natural" were so relieved to see a roomful of people who were making the choice to prepare for a natural birth, just like them.
 
Date Night – Spend one night (or afternoon) a week with your beloved and do something together to honor the birth of your child.  Whether you spend a little time visiting in the car or breaking down the class on the way home, it’s class time + conversation that the two of you are dedicating to prepare for the birth of your baby.
 
Our Bradley Method® instructor would make yummy chocolate chip cookies for us!Snack – I remember being hungry when I was pregnant and looking in the refrigerator, the freezer AND the pantry and finding that there was nothing in there that I wanted to eat.  Bah!  Then I got cranky.  Most Bradley™ classes take a snack break.  Whether it’s provided by your instructor or your peers, its one time that day that you will get a yummy snack without putting time or thought into it.
 
Camaraderie – Think you are alone experiencing the creaks, groans and squeaks of pregnancy?  Spend a little time talking to the couples on either side of you and you will find out that there are other people making sounds they never knew they would make, having heartburn that could fry an egg, and the concerns that have plagued pregnant women since time immemorial.
 
Our Series 2 group gathered together for an Easter Egg Hunt - fun was had by all!Community – Those people you see in class for twelve weeks?  It’s likely that they are going to be people you keep in touch with after class is over and you are holding your babies on the outside.  Even though they are complete strangers the first class session, like you, they are choosing to prepare for a birth with little to no interventions or anesthesia.  Maybe your friends and family are telling you, “Take the drugs – that’s what they are there for,” or, “You don’t get a medal for natural birth.”  The folks in class with you are a sign that you are not alone in your choice.  Together you will learn to say, “This is the choice that works for our family.”   You can gain confidence in your choice when you see how many other like-minded families are around you that understand and support your choice because that is a choice they are making for their families, too.
 
Communication – The foundation of any win-win relationship is the ability to communicate effectively.  Each week of class there is a different communication exercise to build skills between the couple, to help you clarify what you want and your priorities for your birth experience, and how to express that and evaluate what you are hearing from your care provider.
 
Healthy, whole food nutrition is a foundation for a healthy, low-risk pregnancyNutrition – Although it is seemingly basic, it is one of the easiest things that a couple can control in their efforts to have the birth that they want.  More and more studies are confirming what Dr. Bradley and Dr. Brewer knew – good nutrition is one of the foundations for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  By making good, whole food choices that yield a daily protein count between 75-100g of protein, a family can lay a good foundation to have more options during a normal, low-risk birth.
 
Exercise – The next building block towards having lots of choices in labor is a mom that has the strength and stamina for her particular athletic event.  Some mamas have a “sprint”, some mamas have “marathons”, and most fall somewhere in between.  The Bradley Method® exercise program is designed so that a mama does some form of cardio to build her stamina and it incorporates exercises to strengthen her back, belly and bottom.  The mom who does these things increases the likelihood that she will be able to comfortably move through her labor to ease baby into position and still have the energy for her pushing phase. 
 
Comprehensive Education – Yes, we are definitely the “longest” childbirth class among the list of recognized “brands”.  By choosing our class series that is 12-weeks long, you are choosing a method that covers many different aspects of pregnancy, the process of labor, natural labor coping techniques, birth plans, variations and complications of labor (and knowing the difference between the two), postpartum care, breastfeeding and newborn care on top of the weekly focus on communication, exercise and nutrition.  While there are other “brands” that teach shorter sessions, we are confident that our approach allows couples the greatest opportunity to prepare for the birth that they want and life together as a new family.
 
Relaxation – Relaxation is the key to The Bradley Method®.  Dr. Bradley believed that a woman who could relax her body by focusing on abdominal breathing and nesting like other perspiring mammals was a woman that could labor and birth without drugs.  His theory proved out:  his natural birth rate was 94-96%, depending on the year.  Our classes not only remind mothers how to do their abdominal breathing, we also instruct couples on eleven different relaxation techniques that address physical, mental and emotional relaxation.  A couple that takes a Bradley™ series theoretically has a toolbox full of techniques to use during labor.
 
Practice Makes Prepared – Every couple has the opportunity to take the material home and make it their own.  By spending a minimum of five minutes a day practicing the weekly relaxation technique and practicing one of the many laboring positions we teach throughout the series, a Mom and her Coach are ready for a normal, low-risk labor.  If they take the communication lessons to heart, they have spent time outside of class preparing a birth plan that works for their family, and they have an idea of how they will choose to handle any variations of labor they may face so that if their labor follows a curvy path, they can handle the twists and turns with confidence.  Above all, a well-trained Bradley Method® couple trusts in the process of birth and they know to follow the Mom’s instincts + communication with the coach and the birth team towards a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

Would you add anything to this list?
 
Disclaimer: 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

 

Natural Labor Coping Techniques

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 10:27 PM Comments comments (1)
Here are some of the ways we recommend our students manage their labor without analgesics or anesthetics.  Even when they are used in labor, we are so happy that our couples use them as tools to manage a long labor and their children are born nursing vigorously and with high APGAR scores.

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  Mom and Coach are informed. 
Through the course of The Bradley Method® class series, parents are taught about what to expect as “normal” in labor, what the variations on normal might be, the different options and interventions in labor, and how to recognize a complication that warrants a change in the plan for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.    

We also teach positive communication, something intended to strengthen the parental bond, as well as serve for positive interactions in the birth space with care providers and support personnel.  Our goal is that parents have the tools they need to evaluate labor, communicate their needs to care providers, and ask the questions they need to make informed decisions about the choices they may have to make in labor.   

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  Mom and Coach are athletes. 
An athlete with an eye on crossing the finish line does four things:  They train, they rest, they nourish and they hydrate.  Dr. Bradley called his patients “obstetrical athletes”.    

His nurse, Rhonda Hartman, designed a training program just for moms to prepare them for labor.  We are still teaching our couples this training program, starting with week one of class and continuing until the time of birth.  We also “train” relaxation.  Each couple is encouraged to take the weekly technique and practice at least 15 minutes per day so that there is muscle memory for relaxation when it is needed in labor.   

We continually harp on the importance of sleep in the weeks leading up to labor and once labor starts.  We learned this lesson the hard way, and as excited as we know our students are going to get as they anticipate the birth of their child, we want them to try to rest.  Getting to the magic number of “10 cm” is only the first part of labor – once they reach 10 cm, they also need energy for the second stage of labor to welcome their child into this world.   

We also echo Dr. Bradley’s advice to eat if you’re hungry, drink if you’re thirsty.  He makes the analogy that going through labor without eating or drinking is like playing a full game of football without any substitutions.  The body is working and burning energy to birth your baby, it makes sense to follow mom’s physical cues.  As long as mom is okay and baby is okay, we have found that mom’s appetite will naturally decrease as labor intensifies; and as with an actual marathon, that the need to hydrate is as important in early labor as it is when mom is close to crossing the finish line.   

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson Water is your friend.
As stated above, a hydrated mother makes for an optimal obstetrical athlete.  She is hydrated for energy and optimal hormone distribution throughout labor.   

 Water is also a excellent relaxation tool.  It works magic in labor: the warmth and the sensation move tension away from the body and adding a layer of relaxation as it works to soothe the mother’s body.  I have heard it called, “The Midwives Epidural”.    

Many hospital moms now have access to the birth tubs that are used very effectively at birth centers or at home births.  If  using a birthing tub or home bathtub is not an option, then the shower can also be an effective tool.  The sensation of water will still massage and soothe the body.  With a shower hose attachment, the water can also be directed at the body where it is the most soothing for the laboring mother. 
  

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  Use abdominal breathing.
Abdominal breathing is taught in many settings to deepen relaxation – yoga, hypnosis, meditation, stress relief, and in The Bradley Method® of natural childbirth classes!  Abdominal breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing.  Basically, you are allowing your belly to rise and fall as you breath instead of your chest.  If you watch children breathe, or if you remember what it was like to breathe before someone told you that you needed to suck in your stomach, you will know what it means to breath with your abdomen.   

Abdominal breath is an important foundation for relaxation.  It slows down our mind and it allows or bodies to release tension.  We teach abdominal breathing in class 2 so we can build on it through the rest of the series.   

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  Coach is a relaxation expert. 
Coach needs to know what relaxes their partner.  Does mom respond to physical touch?  What kind of touch?  Does she like a strong counter-pressure or gentle effleurage?  Does she like a relaxation script, a prayer or a story read to her?  Does she feel safe in her birth space?     

By the end of The Bradley Method® class series, we have covered these, and many more questions, to help the Coach be a relaxation expert on their partner.  We also teach 11 different relaxation techniques for coaches to put into their “toolbox” to use as needed as labor progresses.   

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  Have a trusted assistant coach. 
Champion sports teams have a stellar assistant coaching staff.  The head coach doesn’t try to do it all – he delegates and finds the best person to train his team so that he can keep his eye on the big picture and continue leading and motivating his team.   

We have noticed that couples with an assistant coach generally end up with births that are closer to the birth wishes they made in preparation for their labor.  The extra set of hands, the extra energy in labor make a difference.  The couples that hire doulas also have an experienced birth professional to help them manage the map of labor.  A good birth doula doesn’t take over the birth, she will help the couple to recognize the signs of progress and make suggestions for coach to support the mom.   

Even if you feel like you want to be just Mom and Coach, you can benefit from an assistant coach coming in for a period in labor.  When we labored with Angelika, a dear friend of ours came in and labored with me when Bruss needed rest.  I had been laying down the first day, resting and napping since we know we have long labors.  Bruss had been checking in on me, taking care of our older children while we waited for family to arrive to tend to them, and he took care of feeding all of us.  He REALLY needed to sleep after dinner that night.  Andrea came, labored with me as long as she could, and when it was time for her to get back to her own family, Bruss was rested and ready to be head coach again.  I am forever grateful for her time that night – it allowed for Bruss to rest and restore for the long work we still had ahead of us.   

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  Break the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle. 
We break the Fear by teaching couples what to expect in a normal labor, along with the many variations on “normal”.  We also break the Fear by discussing the complications and sharing strategies and options for them to consider if they are among the small percentage of people that face complications in labor.   

We break the Tension by teaching Mom and Coach to be relaxation experts.  We break the Tension by teaching couples to communicate together, and how to communicate with their care team for effective and positive interactions.   

We break the Pain by reminding mothers that labor is an athletic event.  It isn’t always easy, however it is doable.  We invite couples from the previous class come share their stories with our current class.  I have seen the “light bulbs” click for both Moms and Coach when the other “first-timers” share their stories.  It makes it more realistic to hear that other newbies had Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcomes by using the information they learned in class.  It reassures them that the intensity is brief compared to the joy of holding their children.  The new parents confirm that the work is worth the effort, and that staying the course and/or making Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby choices are rewarded with a happy family outcome.    

We also encourage couples to find affirmations, prayers, scripts and/or music to draw energy from in labor.  Labor is an exercise in intensity that ebbs and flows.  Having something to focus on besides the intensity that is growing helps to focus mom on the work that she is doing.  They can also restore and encourage her when she wants to give into the pain.    

By having knowledge, training and tools, couples are well on their way to a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.   

What was a natural labor coping technique that worked for you during your labor?   

Disclaimer:  
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

Mental Relaxation

Posted on March 31, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleCoaches Corner
Today's post is from Bruss' perspective.  He led class on Monday and told a story he had never shared in a class setting before...here it is along with an introduction that shares the line of thinking that went along with the story...

An important part of The Bradley Method® (some say the most important) is relaxation.

The superficial view I had of relaxation going into our first Bradley class and subsequent birth was that of *physical* relaxation. Krystyna and I were/are regular Yoga practitioners and my mental picture of relaxation was the final Yoga posture where one lays prone on the floor after a hard workout where the only option is total physical relaxation. In my own mind I thought that getting Krystyna to the physical state of relaxation was the goal/benefit to her in pregnancy and labor.

The Bradley Method® instructs various methods of physical relaxation to the couples and encourages them to explore others that are meaningful to them. Among the methods are message, stroking, hot showers etc.

Combined with physical relaxation, The Bradley Method® teaches the importance of emotional and mental relaxation. Initially I considered these relaxation themes of less importance than physical relaxation. My thought process was if I can help get Krystyna to relax *physically* than the other relaxation components would take care of themselves. 

I have come to find out through our Birth experiences as well as the dozens of students that we have help teach/mentor that my initial approach to relaxation in pregnancy and birth was exactly backwards.

Physical relaxation is the *end* result and dependent on emotional and mental relaxation, Mom needs to be in a good emotional state, accepting of the baby and ready (as possible) to take on her labor, ready to be a Mother, has effectively dealt with any family dynamic issues *prior* to going into labor or any other *emotional* issues that may impact Mom's readiness for labor and beyond. 

As a strong compliment to emotional relaxation, Mom's ability to focus her mental energies effectively in pregnancy and labor can dramatically effect the outcomes for better or worse. I think of mental relaxation is the ability of Mom to affect her state of mind positively to overcome any externalities such as physical discomfort, emotional and environmental challenges.

What I have found through experience is that if Mom is not relaxed emotionally and is not able to focus her mental energies positively then *physical* relaxation is all but impossible. Conversely, by concentrating on emotional relaxation and positive mental focus then physical relaxation seemingly just happened and labor was able to progress more effectively.

.....

So what does all that mean?

For me as a husband and labor coach, what this means is that I have to (1) understand the importance/impact of emotional and mental relaxation to pregnancy and labor and (2) be ready, willing and able to effectively work/communicate with Krystyna on these components of relaxation during pregnancy, labor and beyond.

......

I'll end the post with a story from our first labor.

In our first labor Krystyna's water broke and labor contractions started soon thereafter. We went to the hospital after 6-8 hours and labored there for another dozen plus hours. While we were out walking the halls attempting to get labor to progress, Krystyna visibly became chilled and shaky. I reached up to her forehead and, sure enough, she was warm and very likely running a low grade fever. Krystyna told me, adamantly, 'do not tell the nurses/doctor that I have a fever or they're going to give us a C-section'.

OK, here I am as first time father, birth coach, with little or no experience, what to do?

Here's what went through my mind at the time.

1. Fever is sign of infection and potentially very dangerous to Krystyna and baby (we didn't know boy or girl yet)

2. Krystyna is *very* mentally strong and her mind is completely set on an intervention *free* labor and delivery.

3. Krystyna is *very* emotionally invested in this labor being natural and intervention free.

4. My last thought before coming up with a plan was I need to be careful how I handle this. Krystyna is very tired after 20+ hours of labor and on edge. If I don't handle this correctly there's a chance that she will just give up and then we're highly likely to be getting a C-section.

So here's what I did.

I told her that she was doing such a great job and was laboring really, really well. I also reminded her that she worked so hard in preparing for the birth with nutrition and education and I was *proud* of everything that she had done for our child. She was/is the absolutely the best and that I love her.

Next I looked at her and told her that she/we had done all these things to have the best outcome possible and the end goal of all this work was ultimately for her and the baby to be healthy and happy.

Then and only then did I tell her that the fever was dangerous. It was dangerous to her and the baby. And that we were not going to *hide* the fever from the birth team because that would go against our primary goal of having her and the baby be healthy.

Then I said that I was there for her and that we were going to do this *together* regardless of what labor interventions we might be faced with even if that meant we were looking at a C-section.

After that conversation we walked back to the room and told the nurse that we likely had a fever and started to discuss the options. The option we chose was to start a penicillin drip to take care of any infection. Several hours later (and 2 more interventions) Krystyna delivered Ysabella vaginally. Mom and Ysabella were healthy and Krystyna and I were *very* happy.

So my role as a coach in this birth was to help Krystyna deal with the emotional and mental challenges in being faced with medical interventions in labor despite her *very* strong emotional and mental investment in a natural, *intervention* free birth. In my opinion the emotional and mental aspects of this birth were the primary challenges that we had to get past *together* so that Krystyna could relax physically, let go and deliver Ysabella into this world. 

In the moment and in retrospect it was one of our very best days as husband/wife and new *parents*.

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale
Disclaimer:  
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleThe material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.


Bradley Day Family Picnic

Posted on March 27, 2012 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (1)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale Bruss taught class last night and he is in the process of writing a blog post on mental relaxation beyond the script...in the meantime I am going to share some information about an event that the Arizona Bradley Method® instructors are planning.

The Bradley Method® has been helping women and their partners to have safe, satisfying birth experiences since the 1950s and it still works.  Area instructors affiliated with The Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth will be hosting a Family Picnic on Saturday, May 5, 2012. The public event will be hosted on Amphitheater Island at Encanto Park in order to celebrate the Father of Fathers, Dr. Robert Bradley, the pioneer of allowing fathers into the hospital room to be at the birthing mother’s side.   

Robert A. Bradley, M.D. (1917–1998) developed what he called Husband-Coached Childbirth, now more commonly known as The Bradley Method® of natural childbirth. Dr. Bradley first articulated this method of natural childbirth in a 1947 clinical trial, and it was popularized by his book Husband-Coached Childbirth, first published in 1965.  Now in it's fifth edition, Dr. Bradley's method of natural childbirth had been used successfully by couples all over the world.

Dr. Bradley's idea that unmedicated childbirths were possible in a hospital setting was revolutionary in the era of anesthetized births. He was "allowed" to do his first clinical trial on unwed mothers. When they did not have adverse outcomes, he was next "allowed" to do a trial on hospital nurses that volunteered to be in his trial. After seeing the great results in the unwed mothers, he had no problems finding trial patients.

At the bedside of one of these married nurses, she was overcome with joy and  emotion after the natural delivery of her child. As her "thank you" to Dr. Bradley, she kissed him straight on the lips! It was at this moment that Dr. Bradley realized that husbands (now we say loving support person, or "coach"), not doctors, should be coaching these mothers through the labor and birth process.

It was from that day forward that Dr. Bradley started advocating for husbands to join natural birth mothers in the labor and delivery rooms. Now all birthing families in a hospital setting can benefit from Dr. Bradley's idea that coaches who are willing should be allowed to be at the laboring mother's bedside.

His method articulates the six needs of a laboring mother and the steps to take to provide a laboring mother with the help and support from a loving, trained coach.  His methods proved themselves through his patient practice. He likened his role as an obstetrician to serving as a lifeguard, stepping in only when his patients needed him.  Dr. Bradley had a 94% unmedicated birth rate throughout his years of obstetrical practice.  

We are excited to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Robert Bradley on May 5, the anniversary of his retirement.  The Bradley Day Family Picnic is open to the public. Past students, current students, and anyone interested in the many options available to birthing families in Arizona are welcome to join us. No matter what kind of birth experience you had or you want, we invite you to celebrate the man who normalized fathers being present at births in the hospital setting.

The Bradley® Day Family Picnic will feature child-friendly booths and games, as well as offer information on The Bradley Method® and other natural living options. The instructors will provide the fun; guests are invited to bring their blanket and a picnic lunch.

The Amphitheater Island at Encanto Park is located at 2605 North 15th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, 85007. For more information on the picnic, please call Krystyna Bowman at 602-684-6567, or visit our Facebook Fan Page.  If you would like to RSVP, click here. For vendors interested in hosting a booth, please contact Krystyna Bowman at 602-684-6567, or via email [email protected]

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale Disclaimer:  
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

In Their Own Words - Chelsey and Bryce

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 5:54 AM Comments comments (0)
We had the pleasure of hosting a class reunion at the beginning of August for the families that we taught in the Spring of 2011.

Here is first installment of one of the birth stories we heard that day.  Chelsey and Bryce share their experience in today’s video segments.

Below you will find an explanation from Chelsey about what they liked about the classes and the class information that they found useful during their labor and delivery.

We were so happy to meet their healthy young man, Brody!  They made the best of their scheduled induction and ended up with the goal we emphasize throughout the class series: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Our Bradley Method® Class Experience
~ By Chelsey Bloomfield

The Bradley® classes really laid the foundation for a positive birth experience for us!

We started out not knowing the slightest thing about the whole birthing process... In fact I tried to avoid thinking about what would inevitably come so that I wouldn't be scared or freaked out by it. We were looking into getting a doula because I was terrified of the whole doctor and medical aspect of it, and I was scared that I would get pushed into doing something that I REALLY didn't want. I started looking into which birthing classes I wanted to take because I am a very education oriented person and we figured that it would help put some of my fears to rest. When we were comparing prices we realized we could only afford one thing, a doula vs childbirth classes... and when we signed up for the Bradley Method® classes I knew we had made the right choice for us!

The Bradley Method® outlines from the very beginning how to prepare your body for natural childbirth. I loved that the nutrition and exercises were a central aspect of the classes. Other classes merely focus on teaching you breathing techniques or ways to relax during labor, rather than preparing your body and mind for the entire process ahead of you.

I also loved the background information on what is happening to your body throughout pregnancy and the different stages of labor!!! By understanding what to expect, and how the entire process worked; that information really put my mind at ease.  I felt calm and prepared when I was in the hospital because I knew how the natural process worked and everything my body was going through.

During Labor we really used all of the relaxation techniques.  I specifically found massage, deep breathing, and mental relaxation the most helpful.
The abdominal breathing was the most useful because it gave me something else to focus on instead of the pain or pressure, and it really put me in this state of total relaxation that is quintessential for natural labor.

Also during labor, we relied heavily on the things we covered in Class 8 when we discussed variations and complications.  Since we ended up being induced and having other complications due to my high blood pressure, it was nice to have the tools and understanding to make the right decisions for us, so that we could end up with a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

In the end it all turned out well! The Bradley Method® gave us all the tools we needed to be able to communicate and work together as a team to bring our baby into the world.

My notes on Chelsey & Bryce's Birth Story
I want to thank Chelsey & Bryce for agreeing to share their birth story out on the internet.  I was especially touched by her praise of her husband when she talked about how she couldn't have done it without him.  That is the true testament to their teamwork and we are overjoyed when we see a couple bond over such a moving life experience.

A comment about inductions...and I will state, as per the disclaimer below:  I am not a medical professional, this is NOT medical advice.  What follows below is simply my anecdotal observation about inductions after teaching several couples.

As I have written in a previous post, there are many factors that go into determining your estimated due date.  So far, three of our couples have been induced.  Of those three, one ended up in a cesarean birth, while the other two did have a vaginal birth.  In listening to their birth stories, I am starting to think that inductions only progress to a vaginal birth when the body is already SO close to starting labor, that the medical intervention serves to "push" mom into a process that was almost ready to start. 

In reading other internet sources on the subject, it seems that other natural childbirth bloggers and/or websites have come to the same conclusion.  As we teach our students: research, research, research and ask questions when your care provider suggests that you interfere with the natural process.  There are no guarantees that what they are asking you to do will work, so if you do decide to go forward with an intervention or procedure, make sure you do so with true informed consent.  Your care provider is not a "mean" or "evil" person - they want a healthy baby for you, too.  It is understandable that their practice history or medical malpractice insurance may skew their approach, however, give them the benefit of the doubt and work together to have the outcome everyone wants: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Onto another part of their story, this couple did a couple of things that were key to their mostly-natural labor...First of all, Chelsey slept!  Never underestimate the power of sleep in aiding you to physically, mentally and emotionally navigate your labor.  The first thing she did after they induced her was get a good night's sleep - they didn't pay attention too soon.  Yeah!!

The second thing they did well:  they handled the "failure to progress diagnosis" brilliantly.  As you will hear in part two of the video, Chelsey's cervix held steady at a "4" for most of the time after their induction although her contractions kept increasing in intensity.  Once she passed the "5" mark (cervix is half-way to the point of being open enough to push), she progressed from a "7" to a "10" in less than two hours, and they were happily holding their baby in their arms 25 hours and 44 minutes after their induction started.

I was very impressed with this couple's ability to communicate with each other.  Their knowledge and confidence in the natural process allowed them to progress to their epidural-free birth because they were successful in getting their birth team behind their choices and supportive of minimal interventions and vaginal exams.  They also invited Chelsey's mom to be their assistant coach, and she was able to reassure them that based on her own birth experiences, Chelsey's body was working and that they would be meeting their baby sooner than later despite the staff's concern that Chelsey was not progressing.

Great job, team!!


Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Truths About Breastfeeding

Posted on August 9, 2011 at 2:56 AM Comments comments (1)
Dr. Jack Newman : Four instructors who teach The Bradley Method® got to attend his seminar in Mesa, AZ.
Dr. Jack Newman
Four instructors who teach The Bradley Method® got to attend his seminar in Mesa, AZ.
I was among many fortunate people who got to attend a breastfeeding seminar presented by
Dr. Jack Newman in Mesa last Wednesday.  It is an understatement to say it was informative.  His presentations left my head spinning; and in awe of good lactation consultants who help mothers feed their children and teach families how to have the best breastfeeding relationship possible. 
 
There is no way I could write a summary on everything we heard that day.  What I do want to touch on today are three of the “Important Truths” he outlined about breastfeeding.
 
His first premise is that almost all women could breastfeed successfully if they had a good birth, good help and good support.  He should know – he has been a pediatrician for over 30 years and has seen many thousands of breastfeeding pairs through his clinic.  The challenge to this statement enters in the fact that so very few of us have what could be considered a “good birth” in biological terms.  He offered this information from Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC, who has a private practice in Ithaca, NY, to demonstrate his point:
- We have ample literature on birth in both domestic animals and zoo animals
- The resounding message for helpers in all the literature is: If possible, stay out of the way
- Mammalian mothers choose their own birthplace, usually somewhere secluded and quiet
- They experience all the sensations of labor
- They feel the delivery
- They smell the birth
- They smell themselves on their baby
- They clean up from the birth themselves and never lose track of where their babies are
- The babies follow a pre-programmed behavior that leads them from the vaginal opening to the nipple
- When any of these links is disrupted, there is a high likelihood that the mother will reject the baby or that the baby will be too confused to complete his role
- The lesson that shouted out to me from all the literature I read – a lesson that took me 30 years to figure out – is that there’s very little information on mammalian infant feeding
- It’s all about the birth
- Following a normal birth, infant feeding just…happens
- Following an interventionist birth, the mother rejects the baby and there is no nursing at all
 - Our hospital births break every rule in the mammalian list of mother-baby necessities

Students of The Bradley Method® attend class in order to prepare to have the most natural experience possible.  Given the fact that most births today have varying degrees of intervention from how they start to how they progress to separating moms and babies after they are born, getting good help and good support become an important part of the equation.  Many hospitals are employing lactation consultants, so you can ask for help from them if you have a hospital birth. 

If you have a birth center or home birth, at least you are in a setting with minimal if any interventions, and your care provider is usually the one to assist with any questions or concerns.  After the initial experience, La Leche League is a great resource for peer-to-peer counseling, or you can find an internationally certified lactation consultant by visiting the IBCLE website
 
His second premise is that the notion that formula is almost the same as breastmilk is patently untrue.  He states that formulas aren’t even close if you look at the biochemistry.  Among the things he said that got a roomful of laughs was that breastmilk and formula are the same only in that they both look white!! 
 
One of his presentations went through several of the different ways that breastmilk is a unique food, from the way its formulation changes with each feeding, and how it changes over the term of the breastfeeding relationship to meet the child’s developmental needs.  A point of interest that I had never heard before was that the amount of immunities in milk actually increases as the child gets older!  It is amazing that our bodies know that a child who is out and about and more independent at 18 months needs more protection than a newborn baby who is always close to momma!
 
A formula-fed baby will only receive what science has been able to extrapolate from human milk to date, and the feeding is monotonous and unchanging, never meeting all of a baby’s needs.  Dr. Newman made an observation that as formula is “new and improved”, what does that say about the countless children who received formula before the improvements?  What were they getting in their bottles?
 
The statement that he made several times that stood out the most, and a phrase that I am definitely going to incorporate into our future Bradley Method® classes is that breastfeeding is much more than breastmilk.  We teach this implicitly when we talk about the benefits of breastfeeding, however I have never made the connection until last Wednesday that this simple phrase encapsulates all the reasons why it’s important to strive to nurture this relationship and feed our young children the way nature intended.
 
They are largely successful at the International Breastfeeding Center (Toronto, Canada) in getting a breastfeeding relationship established.  However, he was quite frank that there were cases where the baby never took to the breast.  He didn’t offer any statistics; my impression is that these cases were few and far between.  I hope that moms going to his clinic would know that if the staff at the Center couldn’t help, then maybe they could find peace in the knowledge that they made their best effort.  These families would be the instance where formula was used appropriately: as an alternative for mother’s milk when the mother’s milk was truly not available.
 
Dr. Jack Newman Lactation AidI also want to make readers aware of an incredible tool: the lactation aid that they use at his clinic.  It is a feeding tube that is used to supplement the baby at the breast instead of using a bottle to supplement.  Going back to his statement that, “breastfeeding is more than breastmilk”, this aid allows mothers to feed their baby at the breast: it helps prevent nipple confusion; and when a mom has low milk supply, it affirms to the baby that their mother’s breast is the source of food as well as comfort.  Here are the links for more information on how to use this aid and for ordering information.
 
Lactation Aid Info
 
Lactation Aid Video
 
Ordering info
 
Our classes on breastfeeding will be forever changed and much improved thanks to Dr. Newman’s seminar.  I am so grateful that I attended early in our work as Bradley Method® instructors.  I look at it in the same vein as the babies who got formula before it was “new & improved” – I am glad that most of our moms have been able to establish good breastfeeding relationships with their babies based on our personal knowledge, Bradley® training, La Leche League and referrals to lactation consultants.  I trust that future classes will benefit from a very informational day!
 
 
Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 

The Bradley Method® aka Relationship Enhancement Classes

Posted on June 13, 2011 at 11:36 PM Comments comments (3)
Class Benefit:  Your Relationship Is Strengthened
 
We find ourselves at the end of another series – again!  A 12-week series sounded like a long time to us when we were first enrolling as students, and I know that it sounds like a long time to some people who call to inquire about classes.  However, now that we are teaching it seems like these classes fly by and before we know it we are teaching our last class of the series.
 
This week is the last class of our Friday night Spring Series.  One of the gifts of teaching is seeing our students grow – no pun intended!  They come in with a general idea about what they want for their births, and at the end of twelve weeks we get to see them working together as a team to achieve their desired birth outcome.   It is great to watch the coaches transform from being bystanders in their partner’s pregnancy; to having them know that they are important and see them taking an active role in the birth of their children.
 
As Bradley® class students, we had an unexpected, unadvertised benefit: we learned to have better communication as a couple.  We definitely emphasize teamwork now that we are instructors.  Sometimes they are couple-to-couple interactions, and sometimes we practice positive communication with care providers.
 
I suspect communication is a cornerstone of the Bradley Method® because Dr. Bradley and the Hathaways, founders of the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth® realized that they were doing much more than teaching childbirth preparation classes.  Being able to talk to your partner openly and honestly is important for the birth-day, certainly.  Even more importantly, we have a lifetime of commitment to that child whose birth we are preparing for.  That beautiful child deserves the best of us as parents.  Being able to talk together and dialogue with your partner is definitely a good foundation for a healthy relationship that creates the security and love we provide to our children.
 
We learned it was important to share our thoughts with our partner, not just assume that they know we are thinking.  We learned it was okay to talk about our fears.  We learned how to plan and goal-set together, and then the ultimate accomplishment was achieving that goal. 
 
Although we always deviated from our plan, we feel that the birth outcome we had with our children was the end result of our communication and teamwork.  Hence the saying we have that we have had the pleasure of four honeymoons throughout the course of our marriage: our time in St. Lucia in newlyweds, plus the sheer elation that has filled the first few weeks after each birth.
 
Most importantly, we learned the value of praising our partner.  It is so easy to find fault and criticize when we are tired and uncomfortable.  It takes effort and focus to try to remember to praise our partner on a regular basis.  Noticing the little things does seem to make us better partners, and when our loved one praises us, it encourages us to keep giving our best effort on a daily basis.
 
Given the fact that mom will probably reach a point in her labor when she is tired and/or cranky, it is important for her coach to know how she likes to be praised, which words are meaningful to her, and how to encourage her if she gets to the point where she wants to give up their plan.  The coach also needs to know when the mom is really ready to change the plan and be willing to deviate and support the new plan, all the while encouraging her and helping her reach their goal of holding their child with a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.
 
We understand that sharing words in front of other people is hard at first.  However, speaking out loud and affirming your love is an important thing to learn to do.  Bruss is a man of few words, however, he became confident in telling me just what to I needed him to say when I needed him the most.  He grew unafraid to talk to me in front of other people, and given that our first three births were hospital births, I needed him to be able to communicate with me whether we were alone in the labor room or the room was filled with our care provider and their medical team.
 
As we prepare to say a temporary good-bye to our Friday Spring Series (we will get to see them with their adorable babies at our class reunion), we do so with the knowledge that besides learning about labor and childbirth, two more couples have been offered the opportunity to learn about each other and grow together as they prepare for one of life’s momentous occasions.  It is our hope that they will take this knowledge and build on it as they welcome this child and any subsequent children to their family.
 

Disclaimer:
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

 

A Good Bradley Method® Outcome

Posted on April 22, 2011 at 10:41 AM Comments comments (0)
Information Desk: 
What is a good Bradley Method® outcome?

One of the reasons we chose to be Bradley Method® students, and then later decided to become affiliated with the organization is that The Bradley Method® puts the responsibility squarely on the parents for the outcome they have with their birth.  They also emphasize the ultimate goal of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Natural childbirth tends to be characterized as anti-establishment, anti-hospital and anti-doctor.  Depending on the instructor and the delivery mechanism, it can be all of those things.  It is easy to blame the establishment, the hospital or your doctor when things do not go the way you planned or the way you wanted.

When I hear “bad” hospital stories from moms who wanted to have natural births, I wonder if they prepared for the birth the way we learned to prepare for a birth.  I wonder if they hired labor support professionals to ensure that they had the labor they wanted.  I know that sometimes despite having done both of these they still have bad outcomes.  In that case I wonder if they knew it was okay to change care providers or their birthplace to get a better chance at the birth they wanted.

I had touched on my hand analogy to explain The Bradley Method® in an earlier post – here it is again.  The palm of the hand is Relaxation – the key to the Bradley Method.  Then there are five fingers – Exercise, Nutrition, Communication, Consumerism and Education.

This holistic approach is what makes the Bradley Method® so successful at preparing the Mom and Coach to have a spontaneous vaginal birth with little or no intervention.  We make every effort not to bias our students as to what kind birthplace is chosen or who their care provider is – we train the team to work together to prepare for their athletic event and to think about which questions they could be asking all along the way.

The team is taught one relaxation technique every week – at the conclusion of the class they have twelve different relaxation techniques that cover the physical, mental and emotional aspects of relaxation that a mom needs to achieve in order for her labor to progress without interruption.  We also train coaches to look for signs that one of these needs isn’t being met.  With this training, they can evaluate what kind of relaxation they could try to help mom get into the deeply relaxed state she needs to be in to cope with the strong sensations of labor.

The team is taught the importance of exercise to help mom have the stamina and the strength necessary to withstand and succeed at labor.  The key of what birth is at its core is in the word “labor” – a mom is going to have to work to have her baby.  The team is encouraged to have mom do some form of safe cardiovascular exercise on a daily basis for mom to have the stamina she needs for the length of her birth.  Whether she labors a few hours (an intense, short birth) or several hours (a prolonged multi-hour or multi-day event), every type of labor has a better outcome with mom who has the stamina to handle her particular kind of labor. 

The Bradley Method® also teaches pregnancy-specific exercises to target the three B’s of birthing: the back, belly and bottom.  These exercises are safe to start during pregnancy even if mom does not have a regular exercise program in place.  They strengthen and add flexibility to the areas that will be worked during the process of labor and that mom will need to have strength and control over for the pushing phase of labor.

Nutrition is a key component to a healthy pregnancy and a good outcome for mom and baby.  The Bradley Method® teaches the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, based on the work of Dr. Tom Brewer who did years of study and research to decrease the incidence of pre-eclampsia and toxemia of late pregnancy.  The couple is encouraged to have mom strive for 80g – 100 g of daily protein, consumed through a well-balanced diet that includes dairy, eggs, protein sources, leafy green vegetables, other fruits and vegetables, grains, a daily vitamin C source and fats and oils.  The variety of foods in their closest “whole food” form provides all the protein mom needs as building blocks for her and the growing baby, as well as all the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for a healthy mom and baby through pregnancy and post-partum if the mom continues with the new habit she has formed.

Communication is an important part of class every week as well.  We do communication exercises to strengthen the bond between Mom and Coach.  We encourage the team to phrase things in a positive way so they are constantly building up and encouraging their partner.  We also work on non-verbal communication since most moms will reach a point in the labor when they can’t talk any more and the Coach needs to be able to read his partner’s non-verbal cues so he can keep coaching her and meeting her needs so she is as comfortable and supported as possible through the most trying aspects of labor.

Consumerism is taught so that couples can make choices based on true “informed consent”.  Informed consent in the realm of The Bradley Method® means that a couple has heard about different options available to them in class, has read about their options outside of class to come to their own conclusions about what they do or do not want during their pregnancy and birth, and that they have had conversations with their care provider to discuss their choices and ensure that their care provider will honor their decisions for their pregnancy and birth.

We also teach our students a series of questions that they can ask if they have to make a decision without access to the Internet and extra reading materials, or if time is of the essence.  Again, many of the decisions that a couple is faced with in these situations are options that they may have opted against in the event of a normal, uncomplicated birth.  Our hope is that the students did their homework and read up on them when they were opting against them, and have a basis to form a decision when deciding what kind of intervention is best when the labor indicates that interventions may be necessary for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

Education is another key that makes The Bradley Method® so successful.  Our syllabus teaches a couple what is normal and what they can expect in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy and labor.  We teach our couples what the warning indicators are and what the true medical emergencies are in pregnancy and labor.  We teach our couples how to have good outcomes if they end up with a cesarean or if they have an unplanned labor setting and end up giving birth outside of their chosen birthplace.  We teach breastfeeding and postpartum planning.

The theme running through all of these aspects of our classes is that it is up to the parent to have the birth oucome they want.  If all they plan to do is show up for class, at least they can get the information and one opportunity to prepare for their labor every week.  It would be less likely for the couple that doesn’t do work outside of class to have their ideal birth.

If a couple takes all the instruction to heart, and does their daily exercise, faithfully tracks and meets the nutrition goals, practices relaxation and runs through a labor rehearsal every day, completes the study guides and they do their own research on the information offered in class to come up with their own conclusions and have good discussions with their care providers, then they are more likely to have the birth they want. 

My mantra is Practice Makes Prepared.  It is not a guarantee, however all the preparation makes for a healthy, low-risk mom who can withstand the trial of labor because she is physically ready, emotionally ready and she has the utmost confidence that her coach is just as ready as she is to do the work that is ahead of them when they face their labor together as a prepared team.

Has every one of our students had a textbook Bradley birth?  According to my count, only two from the eight that have had their babies already had completely intervention free births.  Whatever their outcome, they drew on the information from class to labor as long as possible without intervention.  Sometimes situations do present themselves when parents need to choose which of the options out there they want to use to speed labor, ease labor or avert a cesarean.  However, I can confidently say that most of them were very happy with their birth stories and felt like they made good decisions about the interventions in their births.

So, given that a Mom and Coach team has prepared for their birth in the way that best suits them, a good Bradley Method® outcome is one in which the parents accept the responsibility that their birth is their choice.  They feel good about the decisions that they made through the course of their pregnancy and labor, knowing that they made those decisions based on their personal needs and the ultimate goal of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Bradley Method® instructors Krystyna & Bruss Bowman, AAHCC 

Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site and blog is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This site and blog contain information relevant to our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this site and blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 

Exercise during your pregnancy

Posted on April 1, 2011 at 4:23 PM Comments comments (0)

Tailor Sitting and/or Kegel : Tailor sitting is a great position in which to practice the "secret" exercise - the contraction of the pelvic floor.
Tailor Sitting and/or Kegel
Tailor sitting is a great position in which to practice the "secret" exercise - the contraction of the pelvic floor.
Squatting : A great position for labor and birth.
Squatting
A great position for labor and birth.
Pelvic Rock - Start : Relieves lower back pressure, among other benefits.
Pelvic Rock - Start
Relieves lower back pressure, among other benefits.
Pelvic Rock - Engaged : This feels so good at the end of a long day!
Pelvic Rock - Engaged
This feels so good at the end of a long day!
The Butterfly : Coaches can help by adding resistance only as mom stretches her legs open.
The Butterfly
Coaches can help by adding resistance only as mom stretches her legs open.
Side-lying position : Usually practiced on the left side to reduce pressure on the vena cava.  Moms need to be comfortable in this position so that they can practice relaxation and use it for labor.
Side-lying position
Usually practiced on the left side to reduce pressure on the vena cava. Moms need to be comfortable in this position so that they can practice relaxation and use it for labor.
Walking  : A safe way for mom to build up her stamina while being careful of her balance.
Walking
A safe way for mom to build up her stamina while being careful of her balance.
Yoga : Pre-natal yoga practice is a great option for both stamina and strength.
Yoga
Pre-natal yoga practice is a great option for both stamina and strength.
One the reasons I believe in The Bradley Method® is that it a holistic approach to pregnancy and labor, recognizing that two people were involved in wanting and/or making this new life, and together, two people prepare to welcome this new life into the world.  To truly educate pregnant couples desirous of a natural birth you must teach beyond the basics of pregnancy and labor education and I think The Bradley Method® does this.

I had to come up with a way to remember what the aspects of our series were about when I was a new teacher, so I came up with a way to remember by using my hand.  The palm of the hand is Relaxation – the key to the Bradley Method.  Then there are five fingers – Exercise, Nutrition, Communication, Consumerism and Education.

By focusing on relaxation every day, the couple is setting themselves up for success during labor – they will have a full toolbox of techniques encompassing physical, mental and emotional relaxation to navigate their labor.  The rest of the components also count – by practicing them, a healthy foundation is built that lets a couple fully relax and enjoy their labor as they work to welcome their child into this world.

The one thing we don’t know when our students walk through the door is how long or what kind of labor they are going to have.  What any of us childbirth educators wouldn’t pay for a light-up sign that we could hang over our door that would display that information when a mom walked under it for the first time:

“Eight hours – easy” 
“Five hours – sprint”
“Three hours – mental”
“48 hours – emotional”

That would certainly help us tailor our classes just for them!

Since that little light-up device doesn’t exist, we must do our best to prepare all our students to build strong healthy mommas and babies.  The mom-coach team needs to be prepared as well.  If mom and baby are strong, and the coach is well prepared, they will be able to manage the variations in labor using their strength and their ability to relax.

Today I am going to write about the Exercise component of our classes.  It’s actually one of the reasons The Bradley Method® class series are designed to be a full twelve-week series.  An athlete would not participate in a competitive event with less than three months of training.  The Bradley Method® teaches that since birth is an athletic event, a mom needs the same kind of preparation for their event: three months – one trimester – to prepare for the ultimate athletic event in my book: birth.

Why is being physically ready so important?  As I mentioned above, a mom doesn’t know until it is over how long her event is going to last.  The accepted “average length” of labor for a first-time mom is 12-14 hours, measuring from the early active phase to the birth of the child.  This is not always the case, nor does it take into account pre-labor, the time when the body is having contractions that don’t stop with a change of activity, but they continue without establishing a regular pattern.

In the event that a first time mom has a sprint for her first labor – as in 3-5 hours of active labor – she needs to be ready for a full-out sprint. It sounds like welcoming your baby within a few hours would be a dream; however most moms who have had this kind of labor will say it is a lot of hard work.

In this type of labor, the contractions could start to establish a pattern as close together as 5-8 minutes apart within half an hour of realizing that mom is in labor.  From that point, there is no “break” for mom to rest physically or emotionally.  The contractions get closer quickly, and there is less rest between contractions.  In order for the body to accomplish this, strong regular contractions are part of the deal.  This mom won’t have time to ease into her labor – she is literally thrown into it and the words “brace yourself” come to mind.

A strong physical body is an advantage to this type of birth.  The muscles needed for birth will be conditioned for the work they are gong to do.  They will be okay being pushed to exhaustion like a sprinter needs to do: a burst of speed to finish without injury and then the ability to recover afterwards.

Some of us have marathons – long, winding affairs that can last more than 14 hours, and sometimes they last a few days.  Again, this requires a body that has the stamina and the strength to endure the labor. 

The stamina will help mom see her baby through to the finish line.  Her body needs to be able to work for an extended period of time without giving into exhaustion.  She also needs the strength to get into the physical positions like various squat positions, all fours, dangling – whatever she needs to do to help baby get into the right position, work with gravity, and be able to comfortably stay in a position as long as needed.  All these things can only be done well over an extended period of time if the mom is already in good shape.

The day you go into labor is not the day to realize, “Oh, wow – I guess I should have been exercising!”  This preparation starts at least three months in advance.  Most Bradley Method® students begin to take classes between weeks 20-26 of their pregnancy.

The goal is to give moms at least twelve good weeks of preparation and motivation to follow through on their daily exercise plan. The good news is that it does build up incrementally.  Whether this is the first time a mom has done regular exercise or an addition to her regular exercise plan, for at least twelve weeks before baby is born, the muscles needed for childbirth are strengthened and toned for the very specific job they are going to do.

I personally noticed a great difference between our first pregnancy when I barely exercised at all because everything I did seemed to cause spotting, and our third pregnancy when I exercised everyday.  I felt stronger for our 46-hour marathon than I did for our 24-hour puttering-around birth.
By then, I had learned to rest early in labor so that I could conserve energy for the pushing phase, and I had also been able to strengthen all the muscles I needed to help Bryan along when labor finally got to the last stages.

Realistically, we all know that the course of labor takes deviations, and sometimes these deviations land the parents in the operating room.
How will exercise and a prepared body going to benefit these moms?
Why exercise "if you might” have a cesarean section?

Exercise serves these moms because it will help them withstand the physical traumas that a body suffers when it is cut open.  Have you heard that a person can’t have an operation unless they pass certain criteria and their doctor signs off on their physical condition?  When most moms end up in the operating room, they are their for complications or life-saving measures for her and/or her baby, so their isn’t time to evaluate “if” they can withstand the operation.  They “must” withstand the operation for them to have a good outcome.

A Bradley Method® mom who has been exercising will have a strong heart, good circulation, and muscles that are toned and will recover more quickly from an operation than a mom who has had little or no preparation.  As a matter of fact, one of our c-section moms was back to her pre-pregnancy size by the time she went to the doctor for her six-week follow-up exam.  She had been athletic before she got pregnant, continued on with regular exercise and added the pregnancy exercises after she started our classes, and despite her very difficult recovery, she had gotten back into a routine after baby their baby was born.  Exercise!

Although we can’t force our students to do anything, we can hope and pray that the narratives we share in class will encourage them and motivate them to exercise every day.  It’s a great chance to spend precious time together that they will treasure after they have welcomed their baby.  The team will have a sense of accomplishment they can share when they have a birth experience that was enhanced by an athlete performing at the peak of “her game” – their baby’s birthday.


Disclaimer:
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.


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