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Why The Bradley Method, and other prescriptive childbirth methods, miss the point!

Why the Bradley Method SUCKS

Expectant families seeking information and preparation for their birth often come across The Bradley Method as it was one of the earliest non-hospital courses available. I do acknowledge the positive impact The Bradley Method has had for many individuals, and I respect the strides it has made in supporting birthing experiences. It has undoubtedly influenced conversations and care about birth for generations.


However, it's important to recognize the other side of this method, and other prescriptive childbirth brands like Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, and Mama Natural. When considering a childbirth course, it's crucial to understand the principles and approach it advocates for, as not all methods are suitable for everyone. While some methods may have positive outcomes for some individuals, it's equally important to recognize that others may have experienced harm from them.


Despite their positive reviews and marketing, prescriptive childbirth courses can inadvertently lead to trauma, guilt, judgment, and division, all aspects that a birthing person should never feel about their birth experience.


Why the Bradley Method SUCKS

As a doula for over 12 years and former Bradley Method instructor, here are my reasons why the Bradley Method, and other prescriptive childbirth courses, SUCK!


At its core, the Bradley Method believes that an unmedicated birth is the optimal way to birth and claims that a “natural” birth is the best birth.


Let’s point out the problems here:


1. First and foremost: ALL birth is natural!


Birth is a deeply personal journey, and there's no such thing as an "unnatural" birth. Every birthing person deserves respect and support regardless of the tools or interventions they choose or require during labor. Using medication, labor interventions, or having a cesarean delivery are simply additional tools available to support birthing individuals, and their use doesn't diminish the naturalness of the birthing process. Language suggesting otherwise is indeed triggering and problematic, as it undermines the diversity and complexity of birthing experiences. (Brands like Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, and Mama Natural share this issue.)

 

2. When a childbirth method advocates for a singular birth approach as the "best," it diminishes the autonomy, power, and choice of the birthing individual.


The Bradley Method, with its agenda and activist-based approach, can limit the range of options available to birthing individuals, leaving little room for true choice, flexibility, or consideration of individual needs. Genuine childbirth preparation and education should focus on empowering individuals by providing them with information about various options and allowing them to make decisions that align with their unique circumstances. After all, every body and every baby is different, and the birthing experience should honor and respect that diversity.

 

3.  Rigid expectations promoted by the Bradley Method often lead to feelings of disappointment and guilt when birthing experiences deviate from the prescribed plan.


The expectations that the Bradley Method promotes can create undue pressure and emotional distress for individuals who may have envisioned a specific birth outcome but find themselves facing unexpected circumstances. It's essential to recognize that childbirth is inherently unpredictable, and outcomes may vary, regardless of preparation or intention. Supporting individuals through childbirth means acknowledging and validating their feelings, regardless of how their experience unfolds. (Brands like Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, and Mama Natural share this issue.)

 

4. The Bradley Method inadvertently fosters a culture of blame and shame, particularly when birthing outcomes diverge from its principles.


This can have emotionally damaging effects on birthing individuals, who may already be grappling with feelings of disappointment or distress. It's crucial to provide support and empathy rather than judgment in such situations, recognizing that childbirth is a complex and unpredictable journey. (Brands like Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, and Mama Natural share this issue.)

 

5. The Bradley Method's emphasis on only one way of birthing may not adequately prepare individuals for the unpredictable nature of childbirth.


As a result, birthing individuals may feel ill-equipped to navigate unexpected situations that arise during labor and delivery. This lack of flexibility can increase stress and anxiety, undermining the birthing experience. Comprehensive childbirth education should empower individuals to adapt to various scenarios and make informed decisions that prioritize their well-being and that of their baby, regardless of the circumstances.


6.  The Bradley Method's standardized approach does not adequately address the diverse needs and preferences of birthing individuals, resulting in a lack of personalized support.


Every birthing experience is unique, and what works well for one person may not be suitable for another. By promoting a singular methodology, the Bradley Method may overlook the individualized care and support that birthing individuals require to feel empowered and confident during labor and delivery. Comprehensive childbirth education should offer a range of options and techniques, allowing individuals to tailor their birthing experience to align with their values, preferences, and circumstances. (Brands like Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, and Mama Natural share this issue.)


With all this said, I know that it can be hard to choice the right childbirth course that fits your needs. As a doula, I suggest you do your research and ensure that you are investing in a course that is inclusive, non-agenda based, and trauma informed. Click this link for more information about our Connected Childbirth Series.

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