A birthing method is considered “alternative” if it deviates from what is considered the norm in most modern cultures: a laboring woman enters the hospital, where the staff takes her in as a patient, monitors the birth, and the doctor performs the delivery. Alternative birthing methods include home births, water births, hypnobirths, and other methods. Here are some of the alternative forms of birthing.
The Bradley Method
This method of birthing is also called husband (or partner)-coached childbirth. This is because the Bradley method, which was developed by an OB named Robert Bradley in the late 40s, involves the whole family in the preparation and process. Bradley students are taught the importance of nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, and other pre-natal and post-natal health issues, and the husband/partner is included in the education.
Bradley students learn about how to communicate with their health care providers and hospital staff, and the post-partum period is also discussed. The Bradley method emphasizes a medication- and intervention-free delivery.
The Bradley method can be practiced at home or in the hospital. The husband/partner assists in the birth.
Self-hypnosis methods have been developed to help some women overcome the pain of labor. In fact, moms who choose this method may not even seem to be in labor at all! Hypnosis is the power of suggestion, and practitioners learn to tap into the woman’s subconscious where they can make use of this power. Like the Bradley method, hypnobirth can be practiced just about anywhere a woman is in labor. To prepare, expectant mothers work with a professional instructor to learn the technique.
Often depicted on television or in movies as “natural” childbirth, Lamaze emphasizes breathing and relaxation techniques. By controlling her breathing, learning to relax and changing her body’s position at certain points during the labor, the mom-to-be is said to gain control of the labor and experience less pain. Lamaze is a form of natural childbirth which emphasizes minimal interventions and medications, as well as the mother’s comfort and ability to move around.
Laboring and giving birth in a tub of warm water is said to help relieve the pain of labor and help women relax. A true water birth means the baby is born in the water, but some women will use water off and on during their labor and delivery. Water births can take place at home or in a birth center.
Giving birth at home is something more and more women are choosing. If you are a low-risk pregnancy (and it’s not a bad idea to get various opinions on what’s considered low risk), giving birth at home with a midwife can be a very positive experience for women who prefer familiar surroundings.