Here is another installment in our "It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature" series. Dr. Bradley had revolutionary ideas to share with the public when we started his obstetrical practice in the 1950's. He was not the only person advocating natural birth, however, he is one of the first to advocate for fathers to be the coaches and in the hospital delivery room at a time when partners were relegated to hospital waiting rooms.
Here are his keys to pushing:
Key #1: Wait until the urge to push is overwhelming.
Dr. Bradley was a big proponent of saving energy and tuning-in to the body to birth as instinctually as possible.
Key #2: Use effective pushing positions.
Dr. Bradley believed that squatting was the most effective pushing position. However, if that wasn't going to happen for whatever reason, he wrote that, "It is not necessary to have the knees far apart. This assures us that the mother's back is rounded like a ball and the baby comes sliding out - like on a slide."
Key #3: Athletic breathing.
In his book, Husband-Coached Childbirth, Dr. Bradley uses the analogy of an athlete clearing out stale air before performing in an athletic event. Basically, during the second stage, a mama pushing is acting like she is running a quick sprint. As the contraction builds, she should take three deep cleansing breaths. Before exhaling on the third breath, she should tuck her chin to her chest. She uses that air to create a cushion behind the diaphragm to push to the point of comfort, holding her breath as long as it's comfortable. If the contraction is still strong after she exhales, she can take another deep breath and trap that air for a second (and third push) as long as the contraction feels "push-y".
Key #4: Relax the Kegel Muscle.
Now this is always the hardest one to explain because you have to feel it to understand how it works in practice. The idea is that only the abdomen and the uterus need to work during a contraction. The Kegel, which up to this point (hopefully) has worked beautifully to tuck the baby's chin to their chest into an optimal fetal position, now needs to relax and open to allow baby a smooth passage earthside.
I hope you are enjoying these "Dr. Bradley's Keys". Next week, we will look at his postpartum instructions.
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