Birthing Basics: The Bradley Method®

7 reasons this childbirth education might be right for you.

Birthing Basics: The Bradley Method®

We’ve all seen the dramatic “hee, hee, hoo, hoo” breathing techniques in the movies or heard about the newer method of hypnobirthing. While natural birth may not be for everyone, if you want to do it, it helps greatly to have a plan in place and a method to get you through it. One effective natural childbirth method that hovers modestly below the radar is The Bradley Method®.

Pioneered by Dr. Robert A. Bradley, obstetrician and author of Husband-Coached Childbirth, The Bradley Method® is a no-drug approach to labor. Dr. Bradley sought to recreate the peaceful births of laboring mammals he had observed on his childhood farm within his obstetrical practice. Disparaged by the prospect of a fourth medicated and traumatic birth, Marjie and Jay Hathaway gave birth to their fourth child naturally under Dr. Bradley’s care, then started teaching “husband-coached” childbirth techniques as The Bradley Method®. Now there are workshops across America and Certified Bradley Method® teachers all over the world.

Here are 7 reasons you might want to consider the Bradley Method® for your childbirth education.

  1. You want your partner actively involved. Pregnant women’s bodies are changing, their emotions are ebbing and flowing and partners can often feel left behind. The Bradley Method® is founded on partner involvement. Dr. Bradley was one of the first obstetricians to invite fathers into the labor and delivery room (Bradley, 2008). He found that doctors and nurses were displaced in their responsibility of supporting mom. The one person who knew mom best was excluded from the birth. Involving partners prenatally and during labor and delivery ensures mom gets support from her partner and confidant.
  2. You’re looking for a deep childbirth education. Unlike driving, childbirth requires no exam or license. But, becoming a parent is the greatest responsibility you’ll ever endure. When you decide to have a baby, you’re in it for life. The Bradley Method®’s 12-week course is intensive, preparing you for an optimal pregnancy, labor and delivery. 12 weeks may seem like a big commitment, but it’s worth investing in education prenatally to enhance the well-being of your child’s life.
  3. Relaxation is key to your birth experience. Our lives are inundated with daily stressors, thus relaxation could not be more crucial. Relaxation is a vital technique used during natural childbirth. Throughout the course, couples learn and practice a variety of relaxation exercises in order to prepare for labor. Partners tune in to mother's needs and learn to identify areas of tension. They become experts in alleviating mom’s stress and facilitating deep relaxation.
  4. You place a high value on nutrition during pregnancy. The placenta is a commonly misunderstood organ. Rather than its perceived role as a barrier, protecting the baby, it’s actually more of a “bloody sieve,” claims Dr. Kelsey, a leader in strengthening legislation to protect fetuses from harmful drugs (as cited in Bradley, 2008). Thus, nutrition and the eradication of harmful substances is crucial to the health and wellbeing of the fetus. The Bradley Method® encourages moms to eat healthy, well balanced diets, high in protein and free of harmful substances. Excellent nutrition during pregnancy is essential to maintaining a healthy, low risk pregnancy and labor.
  5. You prefer a drug-free pregnancy and birth. Most likely your obstetrician gave you a list of “safe” medication to take during pregnancy. However, Annie Murphy Paul, renowned learning expert and author of Origins (2010) writes, “But some scientists say we don’t know nearly enough about how drugs work during pregnancy, including those commonly regarded as safe.” The Bradley Method® course teaches alternative ways to manage discomfort and pain in pregnancy and labor. From prenatal exercises to movement during labor, there are a variety of healthy ways to cope with common prenatal and labor discomforts.
  6. You’re hoping to reduce hospital intervention during birth. When you consider buying a car, most likely you invest hours of time and energy researching types of cars, reading reviews, asking friends and overall becoming an educated consumer in the car market. But, in the birth market, few parents invest this same time and energy in educating themselves on what to expect. Like the high pressure environment of car sales, delivering in a hospital can feel disempowering if you’re not equipped with knowledge. The Bradley Method® students learn potential interventions and procedures commonly administered in hospitals. Parents master the ability to slow down the process of interventions. If, during labor, mother and baby are doing well, parents take a step back, reflect, ask questions and gather information. Partners learn to advocate and be the much needed buffer between mom and potentially unwanted, unnecessary interventions.
  7. You want to breastfeed, and are looking for education prior to birth. Support is one of the best safeguards of breastfeeding. Bradley Method® students not only learn about the benefits of breastfeeding, partners learn how to support mom and couples learn where to access support. The La Leche League International’s leading breastfeeding resource, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (2010) explains, “We’re not like bears, happy to live alone in our caves; we’re a lot more like elephants, who crave the company of other elephants.” Through education and building a supportive network, breastfeeding is demystified and more manageable.

I urge all pregnant women and partners to explore their childbirth education options and opt for what best fits their needs, not what’s most trendy or convenient. Find out where you can find a Bradley® course near you, visit

Written by Molly England. Molly is a devoted blogger, freelance writer and a passionate Certified Bradley Method® Natural Childbirth Educator. In 2015 Molly founded Bluebonnet Babies, a virtual hub providing products and resources based on evidence, research, experience and love to parents making healthy and informed choices. She currently lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and their three children. Visit, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Bradley, Robert A. (2008). Husband-Coached childbirth. (5th ed.). New York, NY: Bantam Dell. (Original work published 1965)

McCutcheon, S., & Rosegg, P. (1996). Natural childbirth the Bradley® way. New York, NY: Plume.

Paul, Annie M. (2010). Origins: How the nine months before birth shape the rest of our lives. New York, NY: Free Press.

Wiessinger, D., West, D., & Pitman, T. (2010). The womanly art of breastfeeding. (8th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. (Original work published 1958)

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A curated box of the pregnancy products you'll want.

We're extending the sale, but just a few days and supplies are limited! Preorder now.

The Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box

pregnancy box

The Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box is available for ordering—but supplies are limited and the preorder window is almost over. Order now so you don't miss out. Boxes will ship in just a few weeks. We will send you updates as the ship date gets closer.


We know just how profound the journey to becoming a mother is, and we want to celebrate and honor you through every step of the way. That's why we created the Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box—and we are thrilled to share it with you first!

Curated by the founders of Motherly, our resident midwife and our fabulous team of motherhood gurus, it's a swoon-worthy box full of items you will adore.

You'll find some of our favorite products to help you on your journey to becoming a mama. We focused on three key feelings of pregnancy: preparation, wellness and celebration.

Preparation: What do you need to prepare for becoming a mama? We've been in your shoes so we handpicked products that focus on you as you prepare for this chapter.

Wellness: Self-care during your pregnancy (and beyond) is so important—mama, you deserve it. That's what helped up select the most luxurious and beautiful pieces to help you embrace your wellness.

Celebration: We are excited for you, too! Keep the celebrations going with a few of our favorite baby items.

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Motherly's Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box FAQs

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The Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box is an exclusive set of products designed to help you on your journey to becoming a mama. We handpicked pieces to help you prepare, stay well and celebrate your anticipation. What's in the box is a surprise, and we know you are going to love it!

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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