After 9 months of carrying a child, some women may understandably wish their baby could be delivered by UPS or Fed Ex, however, that is not the case and there is no stork that will delivery your baby for you. After nine months of hormonal changes, carrying extra weight and reduced movement many will want to just get it over. But the race is won at the final leg and Lamaze, Bradley or other options can help carry you over the finish line in optimal shape.
Women, obviously, have been giving birth for hundreds of thousands of years. The basic process has changed little over that time. But medical knowledge has grown by leaps and bounds.
During the mid-19th century that knowledge consisted of a growing set of tools and drugs to minimize pain. By the mid-20th century, though, birth was almost something that happened to a woman and her baby, rather than something they did. Contemporary knowledge can help the expectant mother take more active control of her birth and deliver with the highest chances for her baby's health.
The Bradley method was devised by Dr. Robert Bradley in the 1940s. The emphasis was, and is, on a set of techniques to deliver without the use of drugs. There are pros and cons to the approach, since anything a mother receives will affect the baby. With the drugs designed today, and the dosages low enough, the odds of harm are very low. Completely drug-free births are not entirely without risks either.
The uncontroversial aspect of the Bradley method is its use of breathing techniques that aid the woman during periods of non-contraction. Relaxation techniques are helpful at those moments to prepare for more active moments. The deep breathing taught in Bradley classes is a positive benefit.
Lamaze has its own proponents and detractors, and more similar reasons. Developed by a French physician and popularized in the 1960s, it too emphasizes 'natural' childbirth. It discourages use of pain control drugs, in favor of hot and cold packs, positioning and breath control.
The Lamaze breathing techniques, like Bradley, are helpful – more so during the more active parts of delivery. The rapid, in-out-in intake of air helps fully oxygenate tissues and control pain. The focus required to maintain that breathing, while also focusing on the need to push in the proper way helps keep the mother's mind off the pain and onto the process.
Both Bradley and Lamaze classes emphasize the importance of having a birth partner to assist in delivery. That can be a friend, spouse or even a midwife. Having that person there is an emotional comfort. Either professionally, or thanks to the classes, they'll have an (at least theoretical) understanding of delivery. They help maintain focus, provide physical assistance in positioning and offer a friendly face in what might be an emotionally cold environment.
Mothers should consider carefully all their options and consult with their health care professionals. There's no need to rule out modern medical technology. Being aware of the risks and benefits of anesthetic and some of the common potential problems can help you prepare. The more information you have, the better you can rationally examine options ahead of time. That helps you make better decisions at a time when you have other things on your mind.