The Bradley Method
In a method class a specific approach to birth is taught and encouraged. The primary coping technique taught by Bradley is sleep-simulation, a form of deep relaxation where a mother quietly lies on her side and practices deep breathing. She should look asleep to the people around her and she should be laboring in bed:
"After good, firm, regular uterine contractions are established, when she wishes to go to bed, escort her back to the labor room." (Husband-Coached Childbirth, p67)
Birth Boot Camp is Not a Method
Birth Boot Camp does not teach that there is a right way to birth. Birth Boot Camp encourages women to listen to their bodies while in labor. That means every woman will move, vocalize, and birth their baby in a way that is most comfortable to them. Couples learn to achieve deep relaxation in a variety of positions, what kinds of vocalizations help mom open, and how to listen to the different sensations of labor and birth. Once you are in labor, you will know what is and is not working for you!
In addition to sleep-simulation as the primary method of labor, the other foundation of the Bradley Method is husband-coached childbirth. The organization that trains Bradley instructors is the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth (AAHCC) and the name of Dr. Bradley's book is Husband-Coached Childbirth. Dr. Bradley advocated "The use of husbands as labor coaches (instead of female 'monitrices, doulas, labor companions, or labor assistants')." (Husband-Coached Childbirth, p236)
"Birth reformers came up with the job title 'coach' as a way to get fathers into the delivery room, thinking that most men would identify with the word because they understood sports. Unlike sports, however, few men understand birth and no man has ever labored out a baby. My first experience as a birth coach came nearly twenty years ago. At the height of the game of labor I totally forgot what I had learned at practice and did what I naturally do best - love my wife. Once I dropped the role of coach and took on the role of lover, the whole process became easier for me." (The Birth Book, p57)
Birth Boot Camp Dads Don't Coach
The relief in men's faces when they are told they don't have to be the "birth coach" is priceless, someday I'll have to set up a hidden camera. Dads have an irreplaceable role in the birth of their child, and that's to love mom. He knows her better than anyone else, he may be able to anticipate her needs before she even knows them herself. Birth Boot Camp helps dad apply what he already knows about his partner to comforting her physically and emotionally in labor. Mom and dad are encouraged to let go of the birth fears perpetuated by our culture, and both mom AND dad will gain the knowledge necessary to be relaxed and comfortable with the birth process.
Birth Boot Camp Training and Transparency
Your Birth Boot Camp instructor completed on average, 9 months worth of study to receive her certification and she must add to her education every year in order to remain certified. The required reading includes 13 books and films. You can see the complete list of requirements here. Birth Boot Camp has also vowed to remain transparent and publishes their unmedicated birth and cesarean rates every year so couples can see that Birth Boot Camp has a measurable impact in helping couples achieve a natural birth today.
The Bradley Method Training and Transparency
Bradley teachers have some of the same requirements as Birth Boot Camp instructors, like having birthed naturally and breastfed their babies, but the amount of study required is significantly less, only 4 books, the two I have cited above and two others. Even with revisions, the information in the Bradley publications are dated. Being old does not make a book bad of course, some of my favorite books are super old, but having outdated information is a disservice to teachers and couples.
The Bradley Method boasts an 86% success rate in helping couples achieve an unmedicated, spontaneous birth. This stat has not changed for as long as I can remember. Not only are we not sure how the AAHCC came by that number (Over which years? Were all mothers included or were some excluded for various reasons?), but couples today have no idea if the Bradley Method has continued to be effective as epidural and c-section rates rise and hospital policies and midwifery laws change.
Bradley Method Today
When deciding whether to certify as a Bradley Method or Birth Boot Camp teacher I called the AAHCC to find out how materials were updated. I had read the required coursework and was concerned about the outdated suggestions made. I was told that I had the most revised copies and that "birth hasn't changed, so there isn't much to update."
I understand that perspective, the uterus of the modern woman works just as effectively as they did 1000 years ago. Woven deep into our DNA are all the same instincts our ancestors had and babies are still eager and active participants in their births. However, we don't birth in timeless, culture-less vacuums. Birth has changed! In the 1940's fathers in the delivery room was truly innovative, but today it's standard policy, barely worth mentioning in class. In 1970 only 5% of births were by cesarean section, today it's 33%. Major shifts in the medical system and in our culture led to that change. In the 1990's natural birth gained more support, hospitals offered mothers comforts from home, and after a rise in c-sections, VBAC's (vaginal birth after cesarean) were suddenly being encouraged! The future looked bright! Today most hospitals have established VBAC bans, and couples face obstacles to natural birth that Dr. Bradley could have never foreseen in his lifetime, which is no fault of his own! Although Bradley teachers could research and update the class curriculum and videos on their own, they are strongly discouraged to by the AAHCC.
We owe Dr. Bradley our deepest gratitude for seeing that women could in fact birth naturally and that fathers deserved to be apart of birth. Are women just as capable of birthing naturally today, absolutely! But a couple deserves the most current information when preparing for such an important life event. Were women shaved and given enemas in the 1970's, absolutely. Do you need to embarrass yourself by mentioning it on your birth plan today? From personal experience... no, no you don't. I really hope you found this helpful in showing some basic differences in the philosophies and content of two seemingly similar natural childbirth classes.