Childbirth preparation is a means of coping with pain and reducing the discomfort associated with labor and delivery. Childbirth preparation classes teach these various techniques. The most common methods of preparation — Lamaze, Bradley and Read — are based on the theory that much of the pain of childbirth is caused by fear and tension. Although specific techniques vary, childbirth methods seek to relieve discomfort through education, support, relaxation, paced breathing and touch. Here is a brief overview:
Lamaze: The Lamaze method of childbirth was invented in the 1950s by French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze. This method is based on the idea that a woman’s inner wisdom guides her through childbirth. Lamaze childbirth education helps women gain confidence in their bodies and learn to make informed decisions about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. To learn more about this method, visit Lamaze International.
Bradley: The Bradley method views childbirth as a natural process and is based on the belief that a healthy pregnancy and birth can be achieved through education, preparation and support from a childbirth coach. This method involves the active participation of the mother and her coach during the labor process and teaches a variety of relaxation techniques. Find more information about the Bradley method here.
Read: One of the first methods to introduce the concept of prepared childbirth, the Read method seeks to eliminate fear and anxiety by educating mothers and coaches about labor and delivery. The Read method is explained in the book Childbirth Without Fear, written by its founder, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read.
Hypnobirthing: This method teaches relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques. The instructors have gone through extensive training. The goal is to teach women how to harness the body’s natural painkilling chemicals — endorphins — to achieve a natural and fear-free childbirth. Information about this method is available online.
With all of the choices available, you’re likely to find something that appeals to you and your individual beliefs.