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Bradley is not for the lightly committed. For starters, typical courses run two to 2 1¼2 hours per week for 12 weeks. Students learn the benefits of prenatal nutrition and fitness, as well as muscle awareness and relaxation techniques for labor. Husbands act as doulas, coaching their partners through everything from preparatory pelvic tilts to final-stage pushing. Parents become vigorous advocates for having a drug-free, intervention-free delivery. 800-422-4784, www.
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., who was a midwife for 20 years and had an epiphany following the birth of her son, now 22. “I realized that attending a birth as a midwife was nothing like giving birth. I knew a lot about the external experience of childbirth—the technical and scientific aspects—but very little about the internal experience, what it feels like to give birth.”
In a typical eight-week Birthing From Within course (two of the classes are postpartum), couples explore their hopes and fears about labor. 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 mental 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 how the bones of the pelvis move and which positions provide more space for the baby to move. They explore their beliefs and attitudes about childbirth through art, music and expression of feelings. Students also learn about the risks and benefits of medical procedures and drugs in pregnancy and labor. Birth Works promotes the idea that every woman already possesses the knowledge about how to give birth and helps expectant moms to have more trust and faith in their bodies.