Dr. Robert Bradley has been practicing obstetrics and gynecology in the United States since 1947. During his early years as a doctor, men were kept out of labour and delivery rooms. Women were subjected to whatever procedures and positions the doctor found most convenient. To Bradley, fresh from watching his father’s farm animals give birth without any assistance or any problems, this seemed strange. Why couldn’t a woman give birth as easily as a cow—since it was the same process for both?
Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth is Bradley’s response to this question, developed from his extensive experience. At times, Bradley’s comparison of women to animals is amusing and shouldn’t be taken offensively, but he makes his point. Perhaps doctors do too much and let the woman do too little.
Bradley proposes that the husband is the best person to help the woman during labour. He is, after all, the one who has shared the most intimate moments with her and the one she turns to for comfort, love, and help. He should be the one with her through this difficult and yet empowering experience. In straight-forward, easy-to-understand language, Bradley walks through the birthing process and gives the men a plan for helping their wives.
Bradley also enforces the idea of preparing for labour. He points out that a marathon-runner doesn’t run the marathon without extensive preparation, so why do women think they can go through labour without preparation?
This preparation includes exercises Bradley recommends for strengthening various muscles a woman will require during labour, as well as strategies for coping with labour pain. Again, the husband is told how to help his wife with these exercises and strategies, providing physical support as well as reminding her to do them.
Because I carried the baby and went to all the appointments and had to eat carefully, my husband sometimes felt left out of the birthing process. Bradley helped him get involved and feel that he could contribute by coaching me and being prepared for what the birth might bring. We read the book aloud to each other, taking it in the order of the chapters that interested us most, but covering the whole book.
During my labour, my husband knew as well as I did what stage we were going through. He listened to me and was able to make suggestions when I, in the midst of the pain, forgot all that we’d read and learned. Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth helped him understand what was going on so he was less worried and fearful about seeing me in pain and watching something happen which he couldn’t control.
You can find more information online at at Bradley’s website or order the book through your local bookstore. An updated edition of the book was published in May 2008.