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Anh, Eric, and Mila

A Birth Story from The Bradley Method®

Mila Birth Eric and I had the exact birthing experience we wanted - quick (relatively), natural, and without complications. Just why our story was so great we know had much to do with luck, but we must also give our classes from The Bradley Method® outstanding marks for giving us the tools and the confidence to take charge of our own labor and birth of our daughter Mila.

Not knowing what to expect from pregnancy and labor outside of 6th grade sex education class and ridiculous or terrifying movie scenes, we thought it would be a good idea to proactively educate ourselves. Our amazing midwife suggested we look into The Bradley Method®, and after several weeks of forgetfulness we found our also amazing Bradley instructor Jan. Without knowing it at the time, this was one of the best decisions we made during the entire pregnancy. We did not do every exercise all the time or eat every gram of protein each day, but we did follow instructions from The Bradley Method® to the best of our efforts and we feel it really paid off. We also found attending all the twelve weekly classes greatly reassuring, which we never missed. Just knowing that other couples were learning with us and watching videos that showed labor in a positive light was great. Eric and I referred to those videos as exposure therapy - by the sixth video we moved from a feeling of unease to a feeling that we could have our own positive birth experience, which we turn to now.

My January 7th due date quickly came and passed with no signs of labor. By the 9th Eric and I were getting anxious, but lessons we learned from Bradley and the support of each other kept us sane. We also kept busy. Eric and I started to walk a lot, I visualized the baby moving down, we talked to the baby, ate spicy foods, and did every ridiculous thing under the sun to get that baby here. By the 11th we went out to buy a pineapple because a friend of ours swore that eating pineapple would induce labor. After running errands all day I decided to try some pineapple and literally 15 minutes later (9pm) my water broke! I did not expect my water to break before contractions started. I called my hospital and spoke with the triage nurse who said, "Call back in a couple hours and if by then your contractions haven't started we'll have you come in and start you up on some medication." I knew she was talking about the dreaded Pitocin. I replied saying, "Well, I was hoping not to have any medical intervention." She sighed and said, "Well honey, when you come in we can give you 30 minutes to walk around but if nothing happens, we'll have to intervene." THIRTY MINUTES?!?! Without studying from The Bradley Method® in this situation, we may have dangerously sped off to the hospital in movie style panic. Instead, I called our fabulous doula, and she assessed the situation over the phone, told me to take a shower, and try to relax until my contractions started.

My contractions started a mere 30 minutes after my water broke, to our relief and excitement. They were irregular for the first couple hours, about 7-10 minutes apart. Some were stronger and longer and some were very short and mild. At about 11:30 PM the contractions were pretty strong. It was hard for me to tell when one started and when it ended, they felt like they were one on top of the other. I spent the next 2 hours laboring at home. My original goal was to spend as much time at home as possible. Eric, my husband/coach, noticed that my contractions had become a steady 2-3 minutes apart. He pleaded with me to go to the hospital. I refused at first but when he said, "Ann, I DO NOT want an unplanned home birth, do you?" I quickly gathered my things and we were out the door. I called the hospital and my doula was on the way. We arrived at the hospital just before 2:00 AM and I was examined. My heart sank when told I was only at 3-4 cm, but Eric just kept reminding me that the number did not mean anything. I tried to believe him but I thought it meant for a much longer labor and the way my contractions were feeling, I started to doubt myself.

I moved into a birthing room right after being examined and began to focus and get into the zone. With my husband/coach and doula, we labored for an exhausting 3 hours. I really tried to focus on my breathing. I noticed that when I left myself screech and take short shallow breaths, the contractions felt much more intense. When I listened to my doula and Eric and took long deep breaths, I was able to stay on top of the contraction and breathe through them. Also, did I mention I was having back labor? My poor doula spent most of this time massaging my back while my husband coached me through some using relaxation techniques from The Bradley Method®. During labor I vividly remember asking Eric, "Where are my breaks?" since it felt like my contractions never actually ended. This was no walk in the park; it was the most intense thing I've ever faced. The best technique I used was the ability to move around freely. I rocked, swayed, walked, and leaned just about the entire time. And just like I was told it would happen in class, I hit a wall higher than any wall I had ever encountered before. Eric said I flashed him a look of shear terror. The nurse immediately picked up on this and asked if I wanted to be re-examined. When she did and told me I was 9 cm I almost jumped for joy. I was revitalized and was able to refocus and handle each contraction one at a time. About 45 minutes later, 5:45 AM, I started to feel the strong urge to push. After only 30 minutes of pushing our little baby girl was out and placed on my chest. She was perfect and able to latch right away!

People keep asking how the pain was. All I can say is yes, it was intense but at the same time, something about it felt so natural. Eric and I still recall the birthing video from The Bradley Method® with the women quietly and calmly delivering her child. My own labor did not seem quite so easy. But, with the help of my husband/coach, my doula, and all The Bradley Method® tools, I was able to settle my fears and approach my birth with confidence. I was fortunate to be able to use what I was taught in labor and delivery and walk away feeling so empowered.