The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth - What It Is, Its Benefits, and More

The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth – What It Is, Its Benefits, and More

The thought of giving birth naturally, without experiencing any pain or taking medicines seems ideal, in fact, worth romanticising. While there is nothing wrong in delivering the baby vaginally (with medical intervention) or via a C-section, many people today are considering natural birth (unmedicated birth). If your pregnancy is sans complications and you want a medication-free childbirth experience, one of the methods you can consider is the Bradley Method of childbirth.

What Is the Bradley Method?

The Bradley Method of childbirth is the method that prepares a pregnant woman to deliver the baby naturally, without any medication. As per this method, with proper education, the right preparation and the support of loved ones, a woman can deliver the baby without taking any pain medication. In the Bradley method, a pregnant woman is encouraged to trust her body and taught how to deal with the stress of labour. The Bradley Method is a 12-week program/class which aims to teach the expecting couples the importance of proper nutrition and exercise during pregnancy. The couples are also taught pregnancy exercises and breathing and relaxation techniques as these can help a woman have a natural childbirth.

Also known as the “husband-coached childbirth”, this method was developed by Dr. Robert A. Bradley in 1947. At the time, the idea of giving birth with your partner (or anyone you choose) by your side sans pain medication was revolutionary and it gained much popularity, especially when his book “Husband-Coached Childbirth” was published.

Advantages of the Bradley Method

The thought of giving birth to a child is overwhelming, but it may take months to prepare (both mentally and physically) for labour and childbirth, and let’s not discuss the postpartum complications that new mothers may have to deal with. This is why the Bradley method is worth considering. Let’s discuss the various advantages of the Bradley Method to help you decide if this is the method for you.

  1. In the 12-week course, a pregnant woman gets to learn pregnancy exercises and several relaxation and breathing techniques which help during labour. These exercises can help you combat ‘pregnancy and labour’-related stress and prepare you to deal with labour pain in advance.
  2. In the program, the instructor stresses on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy. The instructor will tell you how you can stay healthy and have a risk-free pregnancy.
  3. The relaxation techniques practised during the 12-week program can help lower your stress and anxiety levels during labour.
  4. This method encourages the idea of the involvement of the father-to-be in the labour.

A pregnant couple in delivery room

When Should Pregnant Women Start Attending Bradley Birth Classes?

As mentioned earlier, the Bradley Method program lasts 12 weeks and includes a series of classes which should be attended regularly without fail. As it is a 12-week course, you can start the program in the fifth month of your pregnancy so that you have enough time to learn and practice labour techniques.

What Does This 12-Class Course Consist Of?

The 12-session course covers the following:

Class 1

In the first class, the instructor tells about the history of the Bradley method. He/she teaches couples how a pregnant woman can stay healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy. You will also be taught important pregnancy exercises and how to deal with pain and how to avoid unnecessary labour pain.

Class 2

The primary focus of the discussion of this class is diet and nutrition. The instructor will discuss the various nutrients that are important during pregnancy. This class will also have sessions on pregnancy exercises and discussions on sex during pregnancy.

Class 3

In this session, the instructor explains the various changes that a woman goes through while pregnant. He/she will tell you about the discomforts experienced during pregnancy and labour and how you can handle them. Attending this class is especially important for the coach (be it your husband, mother, or any loved one) as it will help him/her stay informed.

Class 4

In this class, pregnancy and childbirth are approached through the eyes of the coach. The instructor will talk about the importance of natural birth, coaching during pregnancy, father’s role in breastfeeding, etc.

Class 5

This class covers how a woman’s body works in the first stage of labour and the basic coaching techniques.

Class 6

You’re halfway there! This class will cover how your body will work in the second stage of labour.

Class 7

If you enjoy planning, you will like this class. Here you will be taught how to make a birth plan.

Class 8

This session will prepare you for unexpected complications during labour, including C-section and how to avoid such complications, if possible. You will also be taught how to take care of yourself postpartum.

Class 9

In this class, you will be taught pain management techniques to handle the challenges of first stage labour.

Class 10

Besides labour rehearsals, you will be taught how to handle the pain in the second stage of labour.

Class 11

In this class, the husband will be taught to be a patient and calm coach.

Class 12

This session covers newborn care, breastfeeding, and your role as a parent.

Relaxation Techniques of the Bradley Method

Physical relaxation is of prime importance in the Bradley method. Here are a few relaxation techniques of the Bradley method that can be practised.

1. Controlled Breathing

This breathing technique can help you deal with labour pain easily. Focus on counting your breaths; take more time to exhale than you’d for inhaling. This will help you deal with labour pain better.

A woman practising breathing exercise

2. Appearing to Be Asleep

When the labour pain gets intense, sleep on it – literally (or at least pretend)! In the first stage of labour, the pain will be intense, you can pretend to be asleep by practising this relaxation technique. Practice this technique by resting on your bed, closing your eyes and breathing in and out slowly. This will help you relax and stay calm.

Are There Any Disadvantages of the Bradley Method of Childbirth?

There are no major disadvantages of the Bradley method but there are no scientific studies to claim that this method works for everyone. In emergency situations, a woman may have to resort to C-section for delivery. This method may also not be convenient for working couples as they may find it difficult to fit a 12-week course into their schedules. Some couples may also feel like they failed at it, in case they have to resort for C-section in the end.


1. What Is the Success Rate of the Bradley Method in Childbirth?

At present, there are no independent studies to prove the efficacy of this method. As per the company’s website, the chances of success are quite high as their site claims that 90 per cent women who opted for the Bradley Method gave birth vaginally without pain medication. But there are no studies to prove the effectiveness of this method as yet.

2. What Is the Difference Between Lamaze and Bradley Method?

Many people mistake Bradley method for Lamaze, but there’s a difference between the two. Lamaze is the technique of childbirth that approaches childbirth as a natural and healthy process, without discouraging the use of medicines or medical intervention during labour and delivery. In Lamaze classes, moms-to-be are informed about the various birthing options available to them so that they can make a decision in time for labour and delivery.

Whereas, the Bradley method focuses on preparing the mom-to-be to deliver the baby naturally, without any pain medication. The husband-coached method also prepares the father-to-be to be a good coach to his pregnant wife.

3. How Many Couples Are Usually in a Bradley Class at One Time?

There are usually 4-5 couples in a Bradley class at a time.

While this method of no-drug approach to labour could make labour easier, sometimes it may lead to unexpected and unwanted situations such as the need for an emergency C-section. If you want to opt for a natural, unmedicated method of childbirth, speak to a doctor whom you trust implicitly. Consult your gynaecologist, learn about your pregnancy situation, and make an informed decision.

Also Read:

Stages of Labour & Delivery
Different Types of Delivery Methods You Must Know
Preparing for Labour & Delivery

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