Turns out that childbirth is difficult. Therefore, there are various methods and classes taught to make it easier. Of course each claim they’re the best. And sadly, none can be learned by casually watching Call The Midwife with your partner (and crying your damn fool eyes out). So learn about the following popular birthing methods and how you fit into the techniques.
Lamaze? More Like La-mazeing!
What Is It: French baby doc Fernand Lamaze developed his technique in the 1940s after noticing how great the Russians were at natural birth. It is the grand pappy of birthing techniques. And yes, imagining your grand pappy delivering your baby could is a tad alarming.
Six “Healthy Birth Practices” make up the foundation for the method. These practices include allowing labor to begin naturally and keeping the mother with the kid after birth. Lamaze prides itself on classes presenting evidence-base unbiased information about all aspects of the birthing practice.
Where You Fit In: Lamaze places a big emphasis on having a birth team led by a doula. The second spot on the team is you, the birth partner. Your job, largely is to be the person who can read your partner for signs of trouble or needs. You are also “the lighthouse” your partner will focus on during labor. Though, how they knew your farts sound like a foghorn is anyone’s guess.
The Bradley Method: Animals. Husbandry.
What Is It: Doctor Robert A. Bradley developed his method on the heels of Lamaze in 1947. The Bradley method puts an emphasis on a calm, natural birthing process led by the husband. Bizarrely, Bradley’s observation of the many placid livestock births he witnessed growing up on a farm inspired his method. Remember that when you bring Junior to the petting zoo for the first time.
Bradley assumed that with proper training in what he termed the “6 needs of laboring women” — including quiet, darkness, breathing and deep relaxation — ladies could give birth as calmly and easily as the family milk cow. Upon the development of his method with a cadre of pregnant nurses, he decided having the father there as the primary coach would help. The American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth™ certifies teachers in this method.
Where You Fit In: The Bradley method is the only method that makes the father such a crucial part of the birth process. Dads become coaches. You’re expected to practice breathing and massage techniques with their partner throughout the pregnancy. At go time, almost instantaneous relaxation occurs based on pre-conditioning. Unlike other coaching assignments you do not need a clipboard or a whistle and there is only one person likely to call you an asshole in the middle of the game if you mess up.
HypnoBirthing: You’re Getting Very Sleepy
What Is It: The idea of hypnotizing ladies to feel less pain has been around ever since James Earl Jones turned into a giant snake in Conan The Barbarian. Although, to be fair, the suggestion was given to pregnant ladies way back in the 1920s. The idea is that hypnosis can diminish fear and pain during labor.
Time has popularized HypnoBirthing. The Mongon Method offers the most legitimate modern training (and sounds only slightly less sinister than the Thulsa Doom method). The method is basically self-hypnosis using sound, aromatherapy, visualization and environmental cues. Some research has denied validity to HypnoBirthing claims. Still, there is an equally large body of research (and anecdotal reports) that it can ease childbirth and reduce complications.
Where You Fit In: The lady will hopefully be zonked out in a calm hypno-world. Therefore, you act as an advocate. You control the tunes, answer requests and lead visualizations if necessary. The requirements don’t include your presence. The doula can handle all of these things. Though how she’ll handle the final snake battle is anyone’s guess.
The Alexander Method: Sure It Works For Pregnancy
What Is It: Australian actor Frederick Matthias Alexander developed the method in the 1890s. Anyone, anytime, anywhere could used it. Alexander posited that people have been conditioned to develop incorrect physical and emotional reactions to the world around them. Because, duh, the world is a crappy place a lot of the time.
The idea is that through thoughtful teaching of movement a student can correct physical and emotional limitations. That is a gross oversimplification. But this super-in-depth technique has a very limited amount of research attached to it. In terms of pregnancy, a woman trained in the Alexander technique should supposedly be able to adopt natural body movements allowing her to accept pain as necessary and bypass emotional barriers. So …
Where You Fit In: Honestly, the Alexander method doesn’t really address birth partners. It does suggest using you as a literal physical support if she needs to get into any specific positions. So, go ahead and start using that gym membership.
Be warned: these classes require monetary costs. However, hospitals or birthing centers may offer some free of charge. The best place to start is to … Call the Midwife. Obviously.