Have it Your Way
From traditional to alternative, there's a world of choices when it comes to giving birth.
I learned how to focus and to work with my body instead of fighting it.” The Gioias were so pleased with their experience that they returned to Bradley classes to prepare for the birth of their second child, Giovanni, who is now 3.
> 800-422-4784, www.bradleybirth.com
Birthing From Within
Empowering women to give birth> Childbirth is an undeniably physical experience, but it’s no less an emotional and spiritual one. Birthing From Within approaches birth as nothing less than a life transformation.
“Our classes aren’t about teaching women where the cervix is,” says Birthing From Within founder Pam England, C.N.M., M.A., a midwife for 25 years who had an epiphany after the birth of her now 20-year-old son. “I realized that attending a birth as a midwife was nothing like giving birth as a mom. I knew a lot about the external experience of childbirth—the technical and scientific aspects—but little about the internal experience, what it feels like to give birth.”
In a typical eight-week course (two of the classes are postpartum), couples explore their hopes and fears about labor and delivery. They learn the physical processes but also delve into murkier territory: How do they feel about the impending delivery? How will they respond to the stress?
In one exercise called “Taming Your Birth Tigers,” students visualize themselves facing an unwished-for surprise, such as an unplanned Cesarean section. They plan ways to deal with the outcome, then replay the “tape” with their resolution in place. “Once women can visualize themselves coping, they experience not only greater physical relaxation [at the prospect of labor] but also emotional relaxation,” England says.
> 505-254-4884, www.birthingfromwithin.com
The spiritual side of birth> In Birth Works classes, which typically run 10 weeks, students learn about
the baby’s descent through the mother’s pelvis by feeling and identifying their own pelvic bones (clothing stays on). They explore their beliefs and attitudes about childbirth through expression of feelings, sensory visualization and art. Students also learn about the risks and benefits of medical procedures and drugs in pregnancy and labor. Birth Works promotes the belief that knowledge about childbirth is inherent in every woman, thus helping expectant moms to have more trust and faith in their bodies.
“Our program is oriented toward personal growth,” says Birth Works creator Cathy Daub, C.D., C.C.E. “Women who make it through get more than a better birth experience; they also learn something about themselves.” Birth Works graduate Lori Grande of Atlanta recalls a moment while laboring with her daughter Sophia, who is now 4: “I was in the shower and I suddenly told my mom, ‘I don’t know how to take care of a baby.’ I just needed to say it; I was still struggling.” This admission may not have shortened Grande’s labor, but it lessened her distress. “I felt safe and supported,” she says. “I knew that I could ask for whatever I needed.”