Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way - Susan McCutcheon
While Husband-Coached Childbirth was more about the theory behind the method, this book is more about the practical specifics: how exactly the woman is supposed to be positioned during labor and birth, what the coach should say and do, what exercises you do to prepare for the big day, and even all the possible ways that labor could begin. This book has some advantages over Husband-Coached Childbirth, the biggest one being illustrations and pictures, especially helpful when it comes to understanding the exercises. However, the disturbing thing (about both the drawings of positions and photographs of women in childbirth) is that few of the women seem to have discovered clothing. It's as if it's perfectly normal for women to be sitting around the home, doing their exercises, completely naked. And when it comes to the pictures of childbirth and labor, it seems a bit odd to see these women giving birth with not a thread on them—usually accompanied by a shirtless husband. At the very least, it gives natural childbirth a sort of hippie feel to it—something on the fringe—which is too bad, because the method itself sounds like it has some great advantages to it.
Another thing I specifically found helpful (in the midst of the expected self-promotion) was a specific description of how Lamaze differs from the Bradley method. Having not read about Lamaze, I didn't realize that Lamaze breathing (at least the older method) is intended to be especially complicated to distract the mother from labor pains. The Bradley method, on the other hand, emphasizes relaxation as a way to lessen or even eliminate the pain.
There's still quite a bit about the evils of any sort of drugs, the dangers of episiotomies, and basically what a mistake any other method of childbirth is. They definitely err on the side of too much caution, practically forbidding everything from IVs to C-sections to fetal monitors. According to Robyn, it does seem that a lot of the information is outdated. A check of the references confirms this: despite the fact that the book was revised in 1996, very few articles cited are newer than 1984, when the book was originally published. I see this as the book's biggest flaw. For instance, McCutcheon refers to studies "in progress" about potential dangers of ultrasounds, which were still fairly new at the time; but surely by now there are more statistics available—what were the results?
The difficult thing is knowing how much is actually outdated information, and where improvements have been made that aren't corrected. I think the best solution would be to write a new book, rather than trying to simply revise one that relies on data from the 60s and 70s. Some of it has the horror-story feel of an email forward: out of these three people I know, blah blah blah. This couple had a C-section, and see how they've regretted it? Etc.
I'm thinking now I should look for a book on a different method, and see how it compares. In the meantime, I'll be coaching Robyn with these relaxation exercises and hope they help.

Fed to jonathan's brain | August 27, 2003