The Bradley Method encourages parents to achieve drug-free births by tuning into their bodies throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Learn more about this childbirth technique and decide whether to enroll in the 12-week classes.

By Nicole Harris
Updated August 05, 2020
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The Bradley Method is a childbirth technique that encourages expectant parents to have a drug- and anesthesia-free birth. It was founded by Robert Bradley, an American obstetrician, in the late 1940s. Today, expectant parents can enroll in a 12-week Bradley Method course that emphasizes good nutrition, prenatal exercise, education, and relaxation. Keep reading to learn more about the Bradley Method and what to expect in the childbirth classes.

What is the Bradley Method?

If you know you want to have a drug-free birth experience, you might consider the Bradley Method. According to the practice’s website, BradleyBirth.com, “Couples are taught how they can work with their bodies to reduce pain and make their labors more efficient.” Courses teach abdominal breathing, relaxation methods, massage, and many more ways to increase self-awareness and manage labor pain. The Bradley Method website claims that 86% of couples trained—and there have been over 1 million—go on to have an unmedicated birth. 

Advocates for the Bradley Method believe that most women can give birth without intervention (unless there’s a medical necessity), as long as they’re comfortable, confident, and prepared. Many couples that choose the Bradley Method also enlist the help of a doula (an experienced nonmedical assistant who provides physical and emotional support) to attend their birth, as well as having a doctor or a midwife in case of emergency. 

Bradley Method Classes: What to Expect

The Bradley method is a 12-week course with 12 instructional units. Participants receive plenty of individual attention, since classes are attended by three to six (or six to eight) expectant pairs. This allows for personalization and gives couples plenty of space to practice the techniques. Students will also receive a workbook with over 130 pages of helpful information. 

Bradley Method classes provide a comprehensive education on many aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Some of the highlights include prenatal nutrition and exercise, pregnancy symptoms, labor relaxation techniques, the stages of labor, potential delivery complications, postpartum care, breastfeeding, and more. Coaches and partners will also be trained to overcome the “special challenges” involved in labor.

To learn more, consider checking out these Bradley Method books:

How to Sign Up for Bradley Method Childbirth Classes

All classes are taught by certified Bradley Method instructors who’ve trained through the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth. Many of them have had medication-free births themselves. Visit the Bradley Method’s directory to find a teacher in your area. Costs vary depending on region and instructor. It’s suggested to start classes in the fifth month of pregnancy, although parents can also enroll in "early bird" classes.

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