Walk…Relax…Stay Nourished…Focus on Relaxed Breathing…Make Your Nest and Push…
For ten years, I taught Bradley Method Natural Childbirth classes. In my classes, I helped couples learn how to work as a team during labor. Each week we worked on learning a new relaxation technique, we taught dads how to encourage and “coach” the moms through contractions. Dads learned the needs of a laboring woman and how to meet those needs. We spent time practicing deep abdominal breathing and focusing on our bodies and how they work during labor so that we could work with our bodies to deliver our babies. Every week, we watched videos of natural births and talked about what we saw and our anxieties and fears. We became a support network for one another.
|Bonnie stays on her feet|
Yesterday, I would have thought I was watching one of my moms from one of my childbirth classes out in my barn as I watched our ewe Bonnie deliver her little lamb. She was the perfect picture of a “Bradley” mom. She stayed on her feet throughout labor, eating hay, and chewing her cud. Every now and then, as a contraction would begin, Bonnie would stand still, close her eyes and breath deeply. Then, she went back to walking, eating, and chewing her cud. At one point, she even let out a huge yawn as though bored with the process. She is a veteran mom and delivering a lamb is not new to her. As her contractions became more frequent, she quit eating as her attention was needed on what her body was doing. She would then squat with each contraction helping to get the lamb in the correct position. It was not until she was ready to push, that she laid down. As the contraction would come on, she would begin to paw at the ground as though making her nest. Then, she would lay down and push through the contractions. When they were over, she was back on her feet-walking and pawing some more. She even began to nicker to her lamb-even before he was born as though to encourage him. Her little lamb slipped into the world quite easily, front feet and nose first, with little stress to Bonnie.
Dr. Bradley, the creator of the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, was no stranger to farm animals. He watched them labor and give birth and began using their techniques with his patients. He began to notice an amazing difference in how these woman delivered their babies. This was at a time when dads were not allowed in the delivery room. Instead, they would nervously pace and wait to get word that the baby had been born, missing their own child’s entrance into the world and missing the opportunity to nurture the moms as they labored. Dr. Bradley changed all of this, bringing the dads into the delivery room. He began teaching his couples how to work together during labor and delivery.
Of all the jobs I have ever had, teaching my natural childbirth classes was one of the most rewarding. Through these classes, I saw men do a complete change as they took ownership in the laboring process and their role as labor coach. I saw big, strong, macho men who said that “childbirth and labor was women’s work” come back to class with tears streaming down their faces as they held their new babies and shared their birth stories. I saw women become empowered by their ability to take control over their birth experiences, and I saw amazing births and the miracle of life unfold before my eyes time and time again. Now, I am blessed to continue to see God’s amazing gift of birth and life right here on my own farm, in my own barn every lambing season.