I have been teaching the Bradley Method ® since 1985. With three healthy, Bradley®-born children of my own, I know firsthand the thrill and excitement of natural childbirth, and I share a passion in teaching other couples how to have a safe, natural birth without unnecessary interventions and drugs.
When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I were like most people — not very well educated on birth issues. My husband had heard of the Bradley Method® from some friends and knew there was more than one way to give birth, so we started studying. We read every birth book we could get our hands on. We concluded that we did not want to take chances with labor and delivery drugs. They had too many inherent risks to mother and baby, and they seemed to interfere so much with the beauty and simplicity of normal, natural birth.
We also did not want to deal with the “puffing and panting” approach. Almost everyone we spoke with said it did not work for them, and our study indicated that this unnatural breathing had its own inherent risks. The Bradley Method’s® safe, natural approach made the most sense, and its success ratio of more than 86% natural spontaneous births was impressive.
So we set out to find a doctor who was familiar with the Bradley Method® and would support us in a safe, natural birth. Easier said than done! In Long Island, NY in 1984, we found doctors almost wholly committed to the high-intervention, medical approach to childbirth. Some gave lip service to the ideals of natural birth, but seemed patronizing or unknowlegeable of the techniques or philosophies of the various natural birth methods. We interviewed one doctor who told us, “They’re all the same; Bradley® uses dim lights.” OK, so that was not our doc.
Eventually we found someone who agreed with our perspective — a Certified Nurse Midwife who was doing home births with a physician back-up. Everyone says, “Oh, you must be very brave to have a home birth.” Really, I’m a chicken! I didn’t want drugs, and I certainly didn’t want a cesarean if I could avoid it. I wanted the safest possible birth for my baby and for me. My choice was really pretty easy: Hospital statistics with an unsupportive doctor indicated at that time an 85% chance of drugs, including a 25% chance of a cesarean, while the Bradley Method® (regardless of where we chose to give birth) meant almost 90% chance of a safe and natural childbirth. We decided to go with our best chances of having a Bradley® birth and chose the most supportive caregiver -a midwife- and transfer to the hospital if there were complications.
Result? We had a beautiful, 9 lb, 4 oz. baby girl in 3-1/2 hours of labor. Even the midwife was pleasantly surprised with how quick and easy the birth was. Michal Lisa was given a 10/10 on the Apgar score. We were so excited about how it went (it was so different from all the horror stories we’d heard about birth), we decided to teach others how to have a sane, safe, natural birth as well. We became certified Bradley Method® teachers.
Four years later, this time in Harrisburg, PA., we had another baby girl, Jackie — 8 lbs, 8 oz., 2 1/2 hours of labor, and another 10/10 Apgar. And 10 years later we did it again, with midwives Lori Wilson and Jan Eklund in Colorado Springs, CO. We had a baby boy, 8 lbs, 11 oz.; David was our longest labor at 6 hours. Michal Lisa and Jackie assisted in the birth of their baby brother, while dad did the “catch” — it was a wonderful family experience. From the start, the Bradley Method® helped us learn what is truly normal, and safe, and enabled us to experience childbirth the way it naturally should be.