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Natural Labor Coping Techniques

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 10:27 PM Comments comments (71)
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®. 

Failing to Progress or Naturally Aligning

Posted on June 1, 2012 at 4:52 PM Comments comments (0)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  We have had a couple of students have had textbook “NAPS” in the last two classes…and since we still have several couples waiting for their babies, I thought this might be a reminder and an inspiration to them for their labors.  NAP – no, they didn’t take epic naps in labor (although I am a big advocate for sleeping in labor)…what it means is that they were very patient in their labors.   

One of the cornerstones of The Bradley Method® is a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  All of the discussion below only applies if Mom and Baby are not showing any signs of distress through labor.  Mom is maintaining a healthy temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, and Baby is also showing that it is doing well as per the monitoring that is being done.  If Mom or Baby are starting to demonstrate that their health is compromised, then parents are encouraged to make the best choices for their particular situation.   

The words “Failure To Progress” are the sound of doom to some of us (I say "us" because I heard this three times!).  They very often mean that interventions are going to start being suggested.  How a couple acts upon those suggestions is very individual.  Marjie Hathaway coined the phrase “Natural Alignment Plateau”, or “NAP” as an answer to the dreaded “diagnosis”: “FTP”, or “Failure To Progress”.    

Failure To Progress is based on the Friedman’s Curve*.  It looks like this: 
 As human beings, it is in our nature to see this neat, explainable graph and say, “It’s a rule!” This can have dire implications whilst in labor if you really want a natural birth.  There are no averages in the midst of a labor – each labor on is unique and individual.  

Mathematically, it’s unfair for all labors to be expected to fit the average.  That brings in another concept we teach in The Bradley Method® classes: consumerism and informed consent.  If there is time: ask questions, ask for time, and then communicate and evaluate what you have heard with your partner before you decide on a course of action.   

  • It is important to remember that the graph is AN AVERAGE representation of labor.  It indicates that a mom should dilate 1 cm per hour, and push an average of 3 hours – for an average length of labor that is between 12-14 hours long.    
  • Math class reminder:  The average number is the number you get when you add all of the data in a set of information, and then divide that total number by the number of units that provided the data.  Applied to laboring mothers: That means that there will be some people that have labors much shorter than 14 hours, and other people that have labors much longer than 14 hours, more will be around that number…and then a few will be right on with the average.  


When a mom does not progress in dilation from one vaginal exam to the next, or between several vaginal exams, she may be diagnosed with “Failure To Progress”, and along come the string of possible interventions.  They can include any or all of the following, along with other interventions: an Amniotomy (intentional rupture of the bag of waters), augmentation of labor with Pitocin, an Epidural to take of the edge of Pitocin-induced contractions, a Cesarean.  

A cesarean may also be suggested if the care team suspects that the baby may not fit through mom's pelvis.  Diagnosed as "CPD", this is the subject for another post altogether.  For now, check the link I listed below* for more information.

Instead of accepting the words, “Failure To Progress”, Marjie decided to suggest a new phrase to her students: “Natural Alignment Plateau”.  NAP instead of FTP.  Natural Alignment Plateau is a different way of approaching that point in labor when dilation does not change.  What we teach in class and hope that our students will remember when they face this crossroads is, "Labor is much more than dilation."   

Labor can be slow to start, dilation can stop and/or contractions can slow down for many reasons.  Here are some to consider: 

  •  Did you change locations where Mom is laboring? 
  •  Is Baby posterior? (Click here for ideas to move baby)
  •  Is Baby trying to figure out how to line up in the birth canal? 
  •  Is there an emotional component that hasn’t been dealt with? 
  •  Is Mom tired and does she need a nap? 
  •  Is Mom making more hormones for labor? 
  •  Is Mom's pelvis still stretching (and using the extra hormones) for baby to fit?
  •  Is the Baby's head still molding for the passage through the birth canal?
  •  Is Mom making more colostrum for baby? 
  •  Has Mom surrendered to the birth? 
  •  Has Baby accepted the birth process?  


If your labor has been slow to start after a spontaneous rupture of membranes, or if you are seemingly “stuck” at a measurement of dilation, it might be time to evaluate what could be going on and change tactics: 

  •  Try a new labor position. 
  •  Go for a walk to clear your heads. 
  •  Take a nap to conserve your energy (It’s hard for a care provider to argue with a dad or doula who is protective of a sleeping mom.)  
  •  "Talk" to your baby and encourage them that you are ready to meet him/her. 


If Mom and Baby are doing well, you can ask for time.  There is not a medical reason for an intervention if Mom and Baby are doing well in labor and your care team confirms that Mom and Baby are okay.  Here are two examples for you to consider and think about if you face a point in labor when there is no measurable progress.   

We had a mom from our Winter class go from 6 cm dilated (usually considered Active First Stage – not yet in Late First Stage) to holding her baby in 21 minutes.  Yes – you read that correctly.  She went from what most care professionals would consider mid-range in labor to holding her baby in 21 minutes…that meant she pushed within that time, too, folks.  Hers was an emotional component.  She was waiting for her mom to arrive.  Once her mom arrived at the hospital and stepped into the room where she and her husband were laboring, her baby and her body got busy.  They dilated a total of 4 cm from 6 cm to “complete” at 10 cm, then pushed, and they were holding their baby in 21 minutes.   

Our other story is from our Spring Class.  Mom had a slow start to labor.  She had started seeing some clear fluid on Sunday, noticed some more on Monday, and went to the hospital on Tuesday.  They tested her fluid and it was amniotic fluid.  Although they were in triage and barely 1 cm dilated, the couple was strongly encouraged to be admitted.  Now they are into the hospital and the expectations of “Friedman’s Curve.”  

This couple did a great job of asking, “Is Mom okay? Is Baby Okay?” After getting their “Yes” answers, then they followed up with, “That’s great!  Then let’s wait a couple more hours and see where we are.”  And sure enough, the next time the staff and their care provider checked in, they were a little further along in labor.  Once things got going, this mom went from being 4 cm dilated to 8 cm dilated in one hour!  Within two hours of that point, they were holding their baby.   

The great news about hitting the NAP is that once the Mom’s body and Baby “get organized”, labor seems to progress very quickly.  Again, remember what I said at the beginning – things go well when a Healthy Mom and a Healthy Baby are given the time they need.  If Mom or Baby start to indicate that “healthy” is losing out, then a family needs to make the best choice for their situation.   

What has been your experience – have you had a NAP in your labor?  What choices did you make?   

For a full explanation of Friedman’s Curve click here or enter this URL into your browser: http://allaboutbirth.net/pdfs/Failure-to-progress.pdf    

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®. 

Labor Readiness

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (0)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale Coach's Corner
Labor readiness

With The Bradley Method®, the labor Coach has lots of responsibilities.  During pregnancy, Coach must ensure that Mom's diet is great and that she's doing regular exercise.  Coach is encouraged to work with Mom on various relaxation techniques and practice.  These are added to the weekly Bradley™ classes (12-week course) to absorb a wealth of information on pregnancy, birth and beyond.

But it doesn't stop there.

There are Coaches that tell me, 'I'm not sure what to do.  I don't really feel part of the process.  I feel like a bystander."  I tell them, “There are not enough hours in the day to pay attention to all the details that need to be handled by the coach in pregnancy, labor and beyond.”

That doesn't mean you have to be a compulsive control freak, but it does mean that you need to focus on as many details as you can think of.  There is something to do *every* day.

For today's post, I'd like to recommend the following for new or newly expectant Coaches whose partner is entering the final weeks of pregnancy (35+):

Now is the time to prepare for having the baby.  Ask yourself, if Mom went into labor right now, are we ready: 

  1. to get to our birth place, 
  2. do we have all the supplies we need to labor,
  3. to deal with an emergency birth, e.g. roadside, home, other travel situation, and
  4. have we/I thought out and planned contingencies for numerous variations that we may face in our labor?


If not, then now is the time to take care of these things.  Mom may indeed remain pregnant until 42 weeks.  But once you get to 35 weeks there is a statistically significant probability that Mom will go into labor and the probability only gets greater as the days go by.

If you have taken care of these things, take just a moment each day to ask yourself, have you remembered everything, is there anything that can be done better, is there anything to add/subtract from the preparations?  Can I do anything to help Mom rest and relax?  Have I told her how much I appreciate what she is doing, and going through, for our baby?

If Coach can do these things or work with Mom to do these things, it will help her to be relaxed and focus on herself, the baby and their upcoming labor.   

What have you done as a Coach to help Mom prepare for labor?

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale Bruss is a Bradley™ Dad with four labors and births under his belt.  If you would like to reach Bruss for more information, or to let him know about your Bradley™ Dad or natural birth experience, you can reach him at [email protected].   



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®. 
  

Resisting the Urge to Push - Second Stage of Labor

Posted on April 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM Comments comments (0)
We had a simple question come up in class last night that we have never been asked before…usually we get to the material before hand and the question answers itself.  Since the mama asked it though, I figured that a good topic for today’s post is a written answer to her question.

The topic of last evening's class was "Introduction to Second Stage Labor".  This is the point in The Bradley Method® class series when we introduce the labor stage of transition, second stage, and then the basics of pushing in regards to breath and positions.
 
Question:  What do I do if I have the urge to push but my care provider tells me it’s not time to push?
 
Answer:  You won’t know if it’s time to push unless you confirm that your body is ready.  There are several things you can do to keep from pushing if the time isn’t right. 
 
Reasons why we have encountered that you shouldn’t push:
You are not completely dilated – pushing against a cervix that is between baby and the vaginal outlet can cause the cervix to swell, possibly leading you to go down a different path toward the birth.
 
You are not completely effaced – also called the “lip of cervix”. The danger in this situation is catching the cervix between the vaginal wall and the baby’s body, possibly tearing the cervix.
 
In a hospital setting: Your care provider isn’t there yet and the nurse doesn’t want to catch the baby.
 
What you can do to keep yourself from pushing:

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleKeep your chin off your chest.  Pinning your chin to your chest is a great way to trap air and put more power behind your diaphragm.  Great for pushing – not so great if you want to keep baby in.  So look up at the ceiling, sing, talk, tell a joke – do something that keeps your mind off the urge to push.
 
Hands and knees position - Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleGet on your hands and knees.  Other supported flat back and knee position that keeps some of the pressure off of the anus and tells your body that it’s time to push might work too.  You can put some pillows under your chest; or if you are in the hospital, raise the head of the bed and lean against that.  This can also be an effective pushing position when mom arches her back, so no guarantees on this one.
 

Open-knee to chest position - Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleGet lower to a shoulder to knee position.  This moves the baby’s head off the cervix using gravity, and you can do this as long as it’s comfortable for mom and baby doesn’t react negatively.  Reading up on it for today’s post, it is not recommended in late labor, so if you are going to do this, think about doing it under supervision and with monitoring.  It is noted to help relieve pressure if the cervix is already starting to swell and you can take a few contractions in this position to see if it helps with the swelling.  If it does, then you can probably go back and do the upright labor positions.

I strongly urge you to read more about this position before you go into labor - it is useful in many situations when used appropriately.  There are three links listed at the end of this post.

Asymmetrical squat - Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleDo an asymmetrical squat for a few contractions.  We used this position with great success to get rid of a lip of cervix.  We did it right up on the hospital bed, supported by a squat bar. (If only I knew then that I would be writing about childbirth in the future...I would have let someone take a picture!)  If you don't feel comfortable doing this on your knees, you can do it on the side of a bed or use a chair.  It will let you keep one foot on the ground while you lean into the raised leg, imitating the position without putting extra weight on the knees.  Last note on this - if leaning into one side doesn't feel comfortable, switch the knees up/down and try the other side.
 
I will end with this cautionary statement: if you are having an undeniable urge to push, it’s advisable to find a care provider to check your dilation before you start pushing.  The last thing you want to happen is to push against a cervix that isn’t dilated and cause swelling.
 
Hire a care provider you trust so that if and when they tell you not to push, you believe them and you do what you need to do.  They may have other ideas that will work - these are just the ones we share in class.  And when it is time to push, get ready, because you are about to enjoy one of the sweetest rewards for hard work – holding your sweet baby!
 
A little anecdote:  It is not always necessary to check dilation before you push; however it’s important to know the possible consequences of doing so.  Since I am an experienced birth mama, my midwife let me push without checking my dilation.  She did ask me if I felt any pinching, and since I did not she went ahead and let me push.  I share this not because I want moms to push without being checked, but to illustrate the point of hiring a care provider you trust.  We have had one student start to push without being checked (nurse didn't believe that she was ready), and she ended up with a swollen cervix that led to other choices down the line.
 
Read more about the open knee – chest position:
 
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®.

Common Factors That Influence Labor

Posted on April 3, 2012 at 7:52 PM Comments comments (46)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleWe have now had 28 students complete our Bradley Method® classes and birth their babies through seven class series – pretty awesome to know that 28 youngsters are blessed with parents who took the time to give them healthy pregnancies and Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby births.
 
Each birth has been unique, and they have varied from intervention free to cesareans to everything in between.  What they all share is that the families made the choices they had to make for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  What are the elements that are consistent across the birth stories we have heard?
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleUnknowns:  There are many things that are unpredictable about birth…when will labor start, the manner in which labor will progress (consistent dilation vs. ebb & flow in dilation), how long it will take from the first contraction to holding your baby, how baby will tolerate labor.  If they are birthing away from home: when will they go to the birthplace, will they be sent home?  The procedures and interventions offered – those all depend on the birthplace and if there are standing orders once they arrive.  And the list goes on…who will be their nurse?  Which provider was on call?
 
Listed below are four things that are in your control through pregnancy and labor.  By making a realistic evaluation of your circumstances, you can influence your outcome in a positive direction by making good choices in the following areas.
 
Rest:  The biggest factor between couples that need or choose interventions and those who do not is how rested Mom is towards the end of labor.  If Mom and/or Coach have stayed aware and awake from the very first contraction and have been timing most of them, they will be spent when the hard work of labor comes. 
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleMost of labor is spent working up to the hard contractions that the body needs to have in order to push out a baby.  Active labor prepares the baby and the body: contractions function to align the baby in the birth canal, and to dilate and efface the cervix.  The length of the active first stage depends on how baby and body work together.  Then comes the work of pushing phase – again, this can take a few minutes to a few hours – it all depends on the baby and the body.
 
We know it’s exciting to be in labor.  We know you want to believe it’s going to go quickly.  We know you need to be rested, no matter how long your labor ends up being.  Trust me – we learned the hard way with our first birth and ended up with Pitocin and an episiotomy because I was exhausted.  We never want our students to repeat our mistakes, which is why we are so adamant that couples take a nap when they think their labor has started.
 
Our families that slept in early labor have had the energy to manage the latter part of labor with less intervention or prodedure(s) to augment labor.  If they have a fast labor, they have the energy and they emotional wherewithal for the “sprint”.   If they draw the “marathon” labor card, they have the energy reserve to say no to Pitocin avoid an episiotomy.  And for those that do say yes to Pitocin, they manage to continue to labor without an epidural.
 
So even when it’s their first baby, we encourage couples to sleep in spite of the excitement.  There is no way an unmedicated mother will sleep through the birth of her baby – they body will wake you up when it’s time to pay attention.  We have not heard, “We shouldn’t have slept” when a couple comes back to share their birth story.  What we do hear is, “We wish we had taken Krystyna and Bruss’ advice to sleep”. 
 
Support System:  We ask families to think about who can be an assistant coach, or to consider hiring a doula.  Wherever you give birth, be it at home, at a hospital or a birth center, there will come a point in the labor where Coach needs to go to the bathroom, or maybe eat something even if Mom has lost her appetite, or maybe Mom really likes counter-pressure – and if any of these are true, Coach can benefit from an extra pair of hands and eyes on Mom. 
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleWhen choosing an assistant coach, couples need to evaluate if the person they are inviting to their birth supports their natural birth choices.  If the person they ask is going to fret over every decision, or tell them that they just don’t why they won’t take the drugs, it will cause tension and that in turn increases the amount of pain and discomfort Mom will feel.  On the other hand, if the assistant coach has come to a couple of classes with the couple, and they have read the workbook or some of the books on the recommended reading list, or even if they just believe in what the couple is trying to accomplish and are willing to serve the needs of the couple, they provide an incredible gift of compassion and energy that helps the couple accomplish their goal of a natural birth.
 
Hiring a doula is a decision that merits thought and reflection as well.  My friend Rachel wrote a great post about factors to consider when choosing a professional labor support person.  The most important thing to ask before you hire someone is if Mom and Coach are willing to share the vulnerable and intimate experience of childbirth with the person they hire.  If you don’t feel completely comfortable or trust in the person you hire, you will experience unwanted tension.  So don’t hire the person that your friend used or the first person you interview just because it’s the easy thing to do.  Hire the person that you would be comfortable crying, doubting and being naked in front of.  If you have an unmedicated or even a less medicated birth experience, you will be sharing these emotions and lack of modesty with your doula as well as with your Coach.
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleCare Provider:  The care provider is one of the most critical choices a couple can make during their pregnancy.  I wrote about this before, and you can read the considerations here.  In summary, if there are any red flags during prenatal appointments, pay attention to them.  If a care provider is not completely supportive of the options you want available to you as you prepare for an unmedicated labor, then be open to the idea that you will probably end up with unwanted interventions, medications or procedures; ones that are not necessary for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome. 
 
The other reason to change, even if you feel that your choices are supported, is if you don’t have that level of comfort that I mentioned should be present when you are choosing a doula or assistant coach.  If there is any question in your mind about laboring with or in front of your care provider, then you may want to seriously consider interviewing other providers.
 
The couples that switched care during their pregnancy have all been happy with their outcomes.  One couple even switched as late as 39 weeks; and that gave their son the three extra weeks he needed for his birthday because their second doctor did not push for a non-medically indicated induction.
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleListen to your instincts:  The capstone of having the labor you want is to listen to your God-given gift of intuition.  There is no explanation for it, other than it is Mother Nature’s way of helping you make the best decisions for your children. 
 
Do you want to eat or drink?  Then eat or drink.
 
Is something being suggested that you don’t feel like you should do?  Then tell your support team and have them help you advocate for what you do want to do. 
 
Is there a position you feel like you should be laboring in for no apparent reason?  Then get into that position and stay there as long as it is comfortable.
 
Which brings us back to where we started.  There are so many unknowns in labor, trust your instincts – they are your primal connection to your baby and your body.  As long as Mom and Baby are doing well in labor, there is very little that they can’t do while laboring. 
 
There are a multitude of things that can be done to help achieve the natural birth the family is striving for.  A solid childbirth education like The Bradley Method® offers information on the many options available to birthing families today, relaxation techniques to practice, and labor rehearsals to become familiar with different positions that are beneficial to a laboring mother.  We also encourage all of our students to keep lines of communication open between themselves and their care team to make sure every one is supporting the couples choices and committed to the ultimate Bradley™ outcome: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby birth stories.
 
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 (111)

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 (46)
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®. 

Spring Start

Posted on March 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)
Bradley Method® classes Chandler, AZ
Spring is around the corner…and it’s time for a new set of families to join us on the journey towards their birth.  I get so nervous before our first class that I don’t even eat dinner…and when class is over I realize that we have been blessed with another great group of folks and that I am really hungry!
 
As we enter our third year of teaching, a few things have become clear to me about what we do.  The overarching message of The Bradley Method® is not just natural birth – it’s about the Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  We have seen many families choose different paths to this outcome, and at the end of the day, 98% of them are happy with their births.  They felt empowered by their knowledge, their rights as consumers to ask questions through the birth process, and the couples made decisions together so that Mom and Baby are well and healthy after labor.
 
To that point, it is really important that our students understand that we are here to convey information.  We are not medical professionals, nor do we want to dispense opinions.  We are people that are passionate about birth and willing to share our knowledge about the birth process with other couples striving to have a natural birth.  We will help them recognize what is healthy and low-risk, we will share strategies to communicate with each other and their birth team, we ask them to do their own reading and decide what they want, and we will encourage them to use their knowledge to make Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby choices.
 
There are three things we have learned that are controllable in the great range of variables that accompany pregnancy, labor and birth. They are nutrition, exercise and sleep.  Interestingly, these three things also carry through to postpartum health; more on that in a future post.
 
Until you are holding your baby in your arms, no one knows how long your pregnancy will last, how long your labor will be or how long you will be pushing before you meet your baby.  What you can do is make good choices to make sure you and your baby are at your best to have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy and so that you are ready when the trial of labor begins.
 
Bradley Method® classes Chandler, AZNutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy pregnancy.  As Bradley® instructors, we teach our couples to eat according to the eating plan created by Dr. Tom Brewer.  He proved through his patients and with clinical trials that there is no magic pill for a healthy pregnancy – no drug company can sell you this.  What you can do is eat a protein-rich, whole food, well-balanced diet and see tremendous results for mom and baby.  Food is literally the building block of the body…and during pregnancy, your baby is knitted together with the building blocks you provide.  Whether your labor ends up being an intense sprint, a prolonged marathon, or something in between, you can build a body and a baby that can endure and surpass your expectations in labor.
 
Bradley Method® classes Chandler, AZThe second component of a healthy pregnancy is exercise.  Moms need stamina so that they can keep their energy up for the duration of their labor.  Options for stamina-building exercise are things like walking, swimming, pre-natal yoga; anything that you were doing before your were pregnant and is approved by your doctor can also be on the list of safe exercises.  We also teach specific exercises that work on toning the pregnancy muscles so that the back, belly and bottom are strong and ready to support the positions used during labor, and the effort of labor itself.
 
Bradley Method® classes Chandler, AZOur students that come back and share their birth stories with other classes have confirmed another point we teach in class: sleep is a great way to avoid unnecessary pain in labor.  True sleep is the tipping factor in the outcomes we have heard.  We learned this lesson the hard way with our first-born. 
 
We were so excited to be in labor and I was so determined to be all-powerful and strong that I wouldn’t give into any “weakness”.  As Bruss and our doula took turns taking naps, I scoffed at them.  It turned out to be the wrong decision.  After being awake for 24+ hours, and laboring with Pitocin and no epidural, I was exhausted by the time it came to push.  That led us to choose an episiotomy, a surgical incision to enlarge the vaginal opening.  Ouch.  It was a long, painful recovery – almost nine months before everything felt normal and painless again.
 
We decided to sleep in labor after that experience.  I have slept at the beginning when contractions have barely started, between contraction in active labor, and with our last baby, we even slept through most of the active phase of labor. 

True. restorative sleep is a decision to let your body get the rest it needs.  An unmedicated mother can give into her need to sleep – no unmedicated mother has been know to sleep through the birth of her baby.  At some point, the contractions are to the point where you need to pay attention; and you will when the time comes.
 
Just like us, the students that were too excited and did not convince themselves to sleep seem to end up with more interventions.  Many of them end up with an epidural in the last few hours of labor.  When used judiciously, this helps them achieve the relaxation they need to finish dilating and get to the pushing phase.  The babies are exposed to the anesthetics for such a short time that they come out healthy and able to breastfeed.  Thankfully, many of them have avoided episiotomies.
 
The ones who are able to sleep during a portion of their labor have the energy to manage the late stages of labor without an epidural and seem to have fewer interventions.  The good news is that the repeat moms who didn’t sleep the first time manage to sleep in subsequent labors.  When they are nourished, strong and rested, they have much different second labors and are able to achieve the natural outcome they wanted and prepared for.
 
It is with great joy and anticipation that we embark on another twelve-week journey with our new class.  We are looking forward to getting to know them, watching the friendships develop, and waiting for the new families born the days their babies are lovingly and intentionally welcomed earth-side.
 
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 Robles-Bowman, 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®.
 

One More Thing

Posted on February 28, 2012 at 3:34 PM Comments comments (0)
The night arrived again – when we say farewell to our students and wish them the best for their birth and the journey of family upon which they are about to embark.  Bruss always tells the first-time parents that he is jealous of them because there is nothing else like the experience of welcoming your first child and discovering parenthood for the first time.
 
I reflect and wonder if we have told them everything, showed them everything, practiced everything – which is of course, realistically, impossible.  I take heart in the fact that in some classes, some babies arrive a few weeks earlier than the estimated due dates.  Even though the parents do not complete the series, the births have all gone pretty well.  We are covering enough material to allow these families to have Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcomes, and at the end of the day, that is the most important aspect of the classes we teach.
 
Before we complete the last class, the phrase “one more thing” is said a lot in that final session.  Here are the impressions we want to leave our students with…
 
On teamwork:
  • They have learned several strategies for positive communication. 
  • There are several places in their class materials to find the questions for informed consent.  If they remember nothing else, the first questions to ask are, “Is Mom okay?  Is Baby okay?  Then they can ask for the benefits, risks, expected results, alternatives to the suggested procedure, and a timeframe to think about it before making a decision.
  • If there is time, it is always okay to ask for the privacy to talk things through before making a decision.
  • Always evaluate any decisions that need to be made with the Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby filter on.  As long as they remember the ultimate goal, they will be able to make peace with the decisions they make in labor.
 
On managing labor:
  • The amount of sleep a couple gets can positively or negatively effect their outcome.  Against the odds, try to sleep in spite of the excitement.
  • Eat if you are hungry, drink if you are thirsty.
  • Fast labors are indicated by a rapid progression of duration, intensity and frequency of the contractions.  If you notice that things are getting longer, harder, stronger and closer together over the course of a couple of hours, you need to get to your birthplace sooner than later.
  • Long labors are indicated by little or no change in the duration, intensity and frequency of contractions over the course of several hours.  If your contractions start ten+ minutes apart, and they are still ten+ minutes apart two hours later,  you are in for a marathon – stop timing, eat something, hydrate, shower and go to bed!  Although we do not wish this labor on anyone, if it is your birth story, you will be happy you rested early on, because you will definitely have energy when you need it later.
  • It is possible to sleep between contractions or even through contractions.  Surrender to the process and allow Mom to rest.
  • Relaxation is on physical, mental and emotional levels.  There are several summary pages we cover so that they can find and refer to what they need at different points in their labor.

  (To read in more detail about evaluating your labor, click here.)
 
On Motherhood:
  • They are about to embark on one of life’s greatest gifts.
  • It’s called “mother’s instinct” for a reason – it is unexplainable and a mystery how we are all connected, however, if they have any feelings or sense anything as it applies to their baby or their family, go with it – they are invariably proven to be the right decisions to make.
  • They are not alone – reach out for help if they are feeling overwhelmed, tired or just need another adult to talk to when Coach goes back to work and they are home alone with baby.
  • Nursing should not hurt, and it is also a learned behavior.  Each breastfeeding relationship is unique with subsequent children.  If they experience any pain, difficulty, or as questions arise, there are several free options from which to find answers: La Leche League, hospital support groups, community support groups.  If they experience any fever or lingering pain, get professional help from a medical care provider: it is best to be told how to find a solution early on, than to let things go and get into a situation where the breastfeeding relationship is compromised.
  • They cannot spoil or hold their baby too much.  It is okay to ignore people who tell you otherwise!  Your baby is designed to be with you and a part of you – they are cute, sweet and cuddly for a reason!  The time in our lives when they need us is so short compared to the time they are independent, so savor every moment of their infancy and hold them as much as you want to!
  • The sound of your child's crying makes your heart hurt for a reason – you are supposed to respond to them and meet their needs.  If the basics of wet, hungry and tired are satisfied and they are still crying, there may be other reasons why they cry: lonely, scared, in pain, over-stimulated…all of them good reasons to hold them and reassure them that it is okay and you will find a path together.
 
On Fatherhood:
  • Mom and Baby will continue to be an exclusive unit for a little while longer.  Until Coaches are allowed into the “Inner Circle”, there are many ways to support that MotherBaby unit so that they thrive and succeed: support the mother’s decision to breastfeed by bringing her food and water every time she nurses, hold the baby so she can sleep and build her milk supply and stay rested to avoid postpartum issues, change the baby’s diaper so mom can take care of her personal needs, keep telling her that she is doing a great job and you appreciate everything she is doing to take care of your child.
  • Even if you feel you are outside of the circle, there are special things that only Coaches can do.  You can soothe the baby when mom needs a break.  Coaches have a different energy that babies respond do.  One mom shared a tip they learned in breastfeeding class:  Moms always smell like milk.  If there is fussiness at the breast, Dad can take baby and calm him/her since he doesn’t stimulate their sense of smell for food…and when everyone is in a better place, they can try nursing again.
  • The time will come when you become part of that “Inner Circle”.  Your baby will recognize you and crave your attention – enjoy it!  You can sing to them, read to them, snuggle with them even before you feel completely “in”, and by the time you are “in”, baby will be confident and comfortable with you; the rewards of taking a vested interest in your child are immeasurable.
 
Our parting wish is for them to have a very Happy Birth-Day; and to come back to share their beautiful babies and their birth stories with future classes.  The most fun of all is to meet again at their Bradley® Class Reunion – it is always fun to see all the Bradley® babies “earthside,” and hear all the new families exchanging stories and experiences.
 
Which parting thoughts resonate with you?  Please add your own words of wisdom in the comments section.
 
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®.

In Their Own Words: Hanson Birth Story

Posted on February 13, 2012 at 11:21 PM Comments comments (2)
I am grateful to Jennifer and Devin Hanson for giving me permission to add their birth story to our Birth Story Archive.  Their generosity is premiering our first twin story.  They have an inspiring story that is a testament to faith and belief in your body, your coach and your birth team.
 
Jennifer was also kind enough to share some thoughts about Bradley Method® classes, care providers and life as a momma of twins.  Read our “virtual interview” below the links to her birth story.
 
The story of the Hanson twins begins with a momma of twins who wanted a natural birth and was ready to do whatever it took to avoid an induction.  Although their due date was October 10, 2011, since she was carrying twins, she was told they would be considered term on September 20, 2011.  I have great respect for her midwives at Valley Women for Women who allowed her to go “past due"...twice.
 
What would you do if you were 40 weeks plus four days pregnant?  You may have seen this already…if not, try this if you can…I know I would have a hard time accomplishing this not pregnant!

Momma went into labor naturally two days after their labor dance, and here are links to her birth story. 

Link to Part 1 The story of their twin sons' birth starts with the account of her labor at home and then at the hospital…
"After many months of preparing and learning (using mainly the Bradley Method®), we were able to achieve the natural, unmediated childbirth that we had hoped for. We had a beautiful, peaceful labor and a delivery that can only be described as "dramatic" but one which God's hand of protection was completely involved in every step of the way. We also have to thank our incredible team of nurse-midwifes who took such wonderful care of us during the pregnancy and allowed us to let the twins come when they were ready (which happened to be 6 days past their estimated due date) and encouraged us to still go for a natural birth, even though Isaac was breech until around 38 weeks (when he turned on his own). Truly, I can not say enough positive things about midwife care - personal, encouraging, sensitive, relaxed and fun. I've honestly missed those ladies since we've had the twins - something I would never say about any other health care provider I've ever had. "
 
Link to Part 2 Their birth story continues with the account of her natural delivery despite a trying second stage:
"While my labor was calm and peaceful, with me being completely in-tune with my body and in-control of what was happening to me, the delivery was chaotic and stressful, with me being so distracted that I couldn't even tell when contractions were happening. I felt out-of-control to the point of panic at times. It was not at all what I had envisioned when I pictured the delivery of my sons, however I believe it would have been far worse had our midwife Belinda not stepped in to fight for us amidst the chaos of doctors and hospital politics. (I should mention here that the OB practice we went with offered something called "collaborative care" with twins. We were to be cared for and delivered by midwives, but a doctor would be available should an emergency arise.)"
 
SPB: What did you take away from The Bradley Method® classes that helped you in your birth?
JH: I think what I took away from the Bradley® classes was confidence that what I believed (that my body was designed to birth children) could line up with reality, even in a hospital birth. And that I had the right to advocate for the kind of birth I felt was best for me, my husband and our twins.
 
SPB: What did your husband-coach feel was the most important lesson he learned?
JH: Devin read a number of chapters in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, which he felt was very helpful. The Bradley® classes reiterated what he had learned from the book. However, I felt going to the classes together helped me feel more confident in him as a coach and helped bring up some good conversations about "How will we handle ______ during the labor/birth/recovery."
 
SPB: Based on your experience, what advice would you give to pregnant women who are looking for a care provider?
JH: I would encourage women to find a midwife or a care provider that has CNMs working for them. We were so encouraged and supported by our midwives. They helped to build our confidence and helped us navigate the "politics" we dealt with because we were expecting twins and wanted a 100% natural birth. Now that the medical bills are rolling in from the hospital, I would also recommend hiring a midwife out-of-pocket and birthing at home or at a birthing center, it is very likely to be cheaper (and less stressful than the hospital!!) This is what we plan to do next time around.
 
SPB: How is life with the twins?
JH: Life with twins is... a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Weston and Isaac are adorable and I love being their mom. We get lots of attention when we go out, which took some getting used to. But now I've learned to be gracious, patient and polite to all their admirers and can enjoy it when people stop us. What's funny is that when I'm out with just one of the twins I get zero attention and now that feels weird. They are such sweet babies. In fact, as I'm typing this I can hear Weston waking up and laughing/cooing to himself - he is a big time morning person and it brightens my day so much to start the morning with his cooing and smiling. Isaac kinda hates waking up, but once he's awake he showers me with morning smiles too.

Many thanks to the Hanson family for making their inspiring story available to breech mommas, twin mommas and natural birth mommas across the world wide web and for allowing is to link to it.  We wish the Hansons all the best as they continue their journey together as a family.  Weston and Isaac, you are very blessed young men.

To read more of Jennifer's writing, you can visit her blog:

Do you have a birth story you would like to share? 
Please contact me at [email protected] if you would like to share your recollections for our Birth Story Archive.
 
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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March 5, 2012 to May 21, 2012
 
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