Difference Between Bradley Method Class and a Mindful Childbirth Class
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I took a Bradley Method class when I was pregnant with my second child. But, I didn't practice Bradley Method with my third or fourth natural labors. And I'm sharing why.
The way I was introduced to Bradley Method was through a friend after my first was born. I had an average (in today’s standards) birth with my first. It was…” Ok”. I didn’t ask many questions, and I did as my OBGYN said.
When I went into labor, I had no idea how to cope with contractions. I had a much appreciated epidural and then rested until I was told to it was time to push. It took about two hours for the epidural to wear off, and then I tiredly entered postpartum.
But for my second, I wanted a different experience. So, I sought an out-of-the-hospital childbirth class and ended up finding Bradley Method through a recommendation of a mommy friend who had taken the course.
I like that the Bradley Method focuses on:
- Natural birth
- Partner support
Those two were enough for me to sign up. I knew I wanted a natural birth, and I knew I wanted my partner to be more hands-on and present during the labor.
I signed up for the Bradley Method
I took a class with a friendly, welcoming instructor named Lisa, who taught her class from her living room.
And she kindly let us bring our toddler since we didn’t have childcare. (In hindsight, I wish I could go back and thank the couples with no kids for putting up with taking a class with a toddler around. That was not typical. And it was kind of her.)
Bradley Method class is about 10 - 12 weeks, and ours was 12 weeks. During those weeks, we learned about labor, coping skills, why the hospital was not our friend, and that I needed to eat a lot of protein.
And while we went for the full 12 weeks, took notes, were taught a lot, what stuck to me was: the hospital was bad for my natural birth wish, the OBGYN wanted to ruin my birth experience, and that I needed to eat a lot of protein.
The part about the hospital being bad is what clung to me the most. I learned to fear the hospital. And so, I labored at home for as long as possible and ended up nearly birthing in the car. I had a natural birth with my second, and I got to experience all those powerful hormones and exhilaration in birthing without medication.
During the labor, I didn't remember or recall anything I was taught for coping skills. But through the class, I did learn that contractions are something I could do, and so I believed in my ability to go through the labor process without medication. And I did.
My son was born with no medications. I had succeeded in experiencing a natural birth. I was hooked on natural birthing.
I choose to not use Bradley Method with the rest of my births.
I didn't use Bradley Method for the rest of the births I experienced. By that time I had become a childbirth educator myself and had a more conscious approach to childbirth.
I reflected on how Bradley Method brought fear around my medical care providers and that while my birth partner was taught he was my support person, he didn't have any birthing knowledge to help support me in the spirituality of birth. It's like knowing "what" to do, without knowing the "why".
In fact, the Bradley Method curriculum focuses very little on releasing or eliminating fears, even though research shows that fear can be a deterrent to a good birthing experience.
So, when I had my third and fourth children, I was able to use a more holistic childbirth education approach that brought a new experience to my birth, without the fears.
When I became a childbirth educator, I consciously did not choose Bradley Method training.
When eventually life led me to become a childbirth educator, naturally, one thought I had was whether I wanted to become a Bradley Method Instructor. But, I chose not to.
Here's why I didn't become a Bradley Method Educator:
- Bradley Method created fear for me with my hospital and my OBGYN.
- Bradley Method is solely natural birth focused, so I would be considered having failed with the Bradly Method if I didn’t give birth naturally.
- In the Bradley Method, my birth partner was focused on his support but not on the spiritual support of labor.
I emailed Bradley Method and asked if I would be able to add to their course. I wanted to add to the spirituality of labor and not be so anti-hospital-focused. However, the response was that no, I could not add anything to their course. I had to stick to teaching their curriculum.
And that was not good enough.
Over the years, I developed a holistic approach to childbirth education and created Mindful Childbirth and Postpartum Education Series, which I've taught to hundreds of couples for the last 10+ years.
The difference between the Childbirth Education through Postpartum Series and the Bradley Method:
- It’s a birth partner focused. However, there’s a week during the series where it’s ONLY your birth partner, and we discuss their point of view of the birth process, their fears, and their concerns.
- You learn natural labor skills and hands-on coping techniques.
- You learn the stages of labor and when to go to the hospital/birthing center or have the midwife come for your homebirth.
- It’s a 10-week course so that you have time to practice and process the information you learn.
- Both have a similar price for a group class.
- Taught by a trained childbirth educator (I’m also a Perinatal Mental Health Specialist, Postpartum Doula, and Lactation Consultant)
- A welcoming and friendly environment where the purpose is to support and nurture you.
- Comprehensive childbirth education so that you understand the process of labor and how to prepare for postpartum.
- Also, include a breastfeeding week so that you are ready to nurse your baby successfully.
- You will learn how to care for your newborn baby.
Differences between Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series and Bradley Method:
- Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series is not about on HOW you birth, but on how you feel about the birthing process. Meaning, even if you’re considering an epidural, you still will learn natural labor coping skills and also how to make informed decisions for medications (should you choose to), as well as how to make them work for you.
- While both are birth partner focused, there’s a week during the Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series where it’s ONLY your birth partner, and we discuss their point of view of the birth process, their fears, and their concerns.
- You also learn Infant CPR in the Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series (this life-changing skill is vital for parents to know)
- In the Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series you will not be placed in a position to fear your OBGYN or hospital. Instead, to know how to make informed decisions in any birthing environment.
- Through Mindful Childbirth you will not feel like you failed if your birth is different than how you had planned (which often happens) and instead will feel prepared to be in calmness and power in whatever way your baby is born.
- Finally, in Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series you will learn the power of the spirituality of labor - the mind-body-spirit connection and transformation.
For couples that are more aligned with this birth approach, then the Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series is perfect.
There are couples that do align more with Bradley Method and when asked, I will recommend one Bradley Method instructor (locally) to them. And the reason why I recommend her is that she teaches outside of the curriculum, while still being Bradley Method.
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In summary, I recommend Mindful Childbirth through Postpartum Education Series for everyone else who wants a more holistic and non-judgmental approach to childbirth.