Friday, May 14, 2010


Many thanks to our readers' responses to my query for natural labor book recommendations. You all are fantastic!

I have greatly enjoyed your suggestions. Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley was soon to be found on my nightstand thanks to our speedy local public library system. I have been digesting it at lengths during daily elliptical jaunts and am almost completely through. The real question is: how have I made it to birth #4 without reading this book??? Red brought this up the other day on the phone and we shared a good laugh about it.

I think the true answer to this question is I've been scared stiff of labor and delivery! Who isn't afraid of pain?!? I had little information and therefore felt extremely unequipped to deal with the challenge. There are likely so many women in this boat. Thanks to Dr. Bradley, I now want to educate them and empower them to make different decisions about their bodies and birth!!!!

My first labor occurred completely by surprise at 36 weeks because of an extreme spike in my blood pressure. Medical induction and various interventions galore followed. My husband and I were like pawns in a chess game. We had no prior knowledge and as a result, had no opinions about how we wanted the process to proceed. To some extent, we were probably better off not knowing much seeing as the health of the baby and myself were in danger. Thankfully, the outcome was a good one--we had a healthy baby and a healthy viewpoint of the epidural. I think my husband called it the "marriage saver," which it was for us in the middle of an induction!

Birth #2 was no picnic. I went into labor on my own, but opted for early pain meds and them breaking my water, which only sent things downhill. The cord was around my son's neck and I was in a race against the clock to see if I could dilate fast enough before they decided to do a C-section. I did. Out he came with the help of a vacuum extraction. It was possibly one of the worst experiences my husband and I have shared as parents. Was my baby alive? Breathing? My husband broke down into tears after everything settled. The stress had been so overwhelming. We were just grateful to have a healthy baby in the end, but growing ever-leary of the mighty epidural.

Then baby #3 came too fast by the time they found me a bed in the hospital. I had taken a baby aspirin that morning (at the rec of my midwife back in the midwest) which bought me enough time to ride out the last hour without drugs. It was frantic. I felt helpless. But I had a natural labor. The wonderful aftermath showed me I never wanted to go back. It was an incredible experience. And now I knew I could conquer it.

Onto baby #4. Pelvic rocking has begun to fill my days. I have been squatting more and finding more comfortable positions for deep relaxation. My C-shaped "Snoogle" will be on my packing list for the hospital. Conversations of Dr. Bradley fill our evening hours. My hubby is getting on board. He, too, knows I can do it. I'm readying for battle.

I'm grateful to know it is a battle worth fighting.


Maria said...

I am glad that we husbands are a part of the birthing of miracles.
Fifty years ago when my wonderful wife and I were starting our family, the doctors,hospitals and nurses treated us fathers as outsiders!
Armiger Jagoe, J.C., editor
The Joyful Catholic

Kerry said...

whoa! Thanks for the huge plug for The Bradley Method!! As a teacher of the method, I love what you have to say and I will pray for a wonderful birth experience this time. The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you will be.

Some people find this book a bit dated-- do you?

Great job with the pregnancy exercises!!

Anonymous said...

Birth in it's natural state is an amazing experience that IS so hard but so worth it! (Do not many of the most beautiful things in life present us the greatest challenges???)
The bonding, journey, and growth that a Bradley trained husband and wife experience during their labor & birth is one that no one would want to miss out on.
One must truly mentally, emotionally and physically surrender and "give in" to birth and trust...your trained husband, your body, ultimately God! How scary and difficult! But what an awesome concept! The parrallel is that we must learn to surrender on a spiritual level as well. I can not tell all I (and my husband) have learned and gained from our Bradley births that I apply to all aspects of my life. This is why I love being an help empower other women and men. What a great way to begin parenthood! Best of luck!

jolene said...

Hi, B-Mama! My husband and I took Bradley classes during the pregnancy of our first child. I really enjoyed Dr. Bradley's book, but I definitely found it dated.

Much more helpful, in my opinion, is the book called "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way." I cannot recommend it highly enough.

In fact, to my friends who have not taken Bradley classes and are only going to read one book, it is the one I recommend. I find it the single most useful book during pregnancy, and I re-read it each time. So I hope you get a chance to read that book too someday!

God bless,

Lisa said...

Hi B-Mama --

Thanks for sharing the stories of your births!

I am so curious about your persepctive because you're someone who has actually done both epidural- and non-epidural-assisted births. Most people I know are strictly one or the other -- so if you have a couple of moments, I'd love to probe a bit so I can better understand what you've written.

For Baby #2 -- how were the pain meds responsible for your negative experience? I think I missed a link -- it seemed based on my reading that the real problem was the cord around the neck?? Perhaps I've misunderstood.

Also, for Baby #3, you described a "wonderful aftermath" that made you a big fan of natural birth. Can you elaborate -- how did this aftermath differ from the periods after your previous epidural-assisted births?

Thanks for any additional details you can share. I'm not pregnant yet, but anticipate this will be down the line for us quite soon!

B-Mama said...

Thanks all! Lisa, to answer your questions... With birth #2, we believe the drugs complicated what was already a dangerous birthing experience (cord around the neck). I didn't elaborate in my post, but in addition to everything else, getting the epidural was a pretty awful time. The anesthesiologist came into the room yawning, dropped an epi. pack, broke another one, and then in the process of administering it (which took WAY too long) asked me if I have a crooked back! It was horrible!!

Because I got the epi. so early (4cm) I then was not aware that I had a full bladder, which ended up impeding birth to the point they broke my water, thinking that was the cause. It was, in fact, my full bladder, which once emptied caused things to go much faster. I also believe the breaking of the water caused the baby to descend into the birth canal faster than usual, further complicating the nuccal cord problem.

Then, when it came time to push, I was unable to produce in a quick fashion, so out he came with the help of vacuum extraction. They removed his heart monitor to perform the extraction, but did not tell me. Thus, I heard a heartbeat and then nothing... and thought the baby had flatlined. IT WAS AWFUL. These are a few reasons we feel drugs actually took away from the birth experience and perhaps made it more dramatic than necessary.

As for birth #3's aftermath, I LOVED getting to walk to the wheelchair, go to the bathroom right away, take a shower almost immediately. I loved the sense of accomplishment, not to mention the more alert nature of the baby. It was all around my best postpartum experience!

Lisa said...

Thanks for much for all the additional detail, B-Mama!

I pray that you and your baby girl will have healthy outcomes from this upcoming delivery!

Erin said...

I just did a "natural" birth with the help of both of the Bradley books. I was induced, but did not have an epidural, and it was quite and experience (first baby was c-section due to placenta previa). I am so grateful for my birth experience even though it was very painful-- the aftermath that B-mama describes was amazing. I had a runner's high for hours. I was elated with my body and my new baby. However, the Bradley method teaches a certain position to be in to achieve the deep relaxation, which did not work for me. But, knowing from our reading that the goal was total relaxation, we were able to find a better position (on the birthing ball) that helped accomplish that, thus allowing my labor to proceed.

Even though I had to be medically induced, I felt my Bradley reading (and the advice of a midwife-sister in law), helped me make wise decisions regarding my medical care along the way, which prevented some of the additional interventions which could cause problems, as B-mama aluded to. For instance, they wanted to give me an epidural before I dilated at all (!) in case we had to go into an emergency C-section, and knowing that might slow labor, I declined. My labor progressed rapidly, and I was glad we didn't have the epidural.

I did find Husband Coached Childbirth a bit dated-- the manner in which the author gives instructions to the husband to direct his wife...especially on a few bizarre things, like, not wearing underwear during pregnancy, or eating all of your meals on the floor. If you are able to chuckle at some of these suggestions and get the gist of what he's getting at, its a good read.

We are all rooting for you B-mama, you will do great!

Jennifer Frey said...

Henci Goer has a book called the Intelligent Woman's Guide to Giving Birth (or something like that). It was the first and only birthing book I ever read. Talk about empowering! It provides just the sort of medical information plus positive encouragement that you felt you lacked.

Be not afraid!!