When I became pregnant, I was your average 28-year-old, just as nervous about giving birth as the next mom-to-be. I didn't stand firmly in either the natural-birth or the epidural camp. I didn't know what I was up against, so how could I commit to one way or the other?
As I thought about it, I realized that my highest priority was to have the safest birth possible. It seemed so illogical to avoid drugs (even over-the-counter ones) during pregnancy but to use them (even strong narcotics) during the birth. And frankly, I didn't trust a stranger, no matter how educated, to stick a long needle into my spine. But if the pain was as unbearable as everyone said, how could I make it through labor without drugs?
Before I'd thought about it much more, my husband, Lou, came home with news of friends who'd had two babies using the Bradley method. This completely natural method of childbirth has been around since the 1970s, but I'd never heard of it. When I looked into it, I discovered that the Bradley method's education and relaxation techniques and its emphasis on the dad as coach suited Lou and me perfectly. An intensive 12-week class gives couples information, such as how the body works to give birth and what routinely happens in a labor and delivery room, so that they can make informed decisions. While using relaxation as a way of handling and reducing pain is the goal of most natural birthing methods, Bradley instructors teach expectant moms to surrender control of their bodies using normal breathing and by focusing inward. (In contrast, Lamaze uses altered breathing patterns and outside focal points as means of distraction.)