I’m used to be a very active participant on Mothering.com under the username *GreenMama*, and after life getting in the way for a while I’ve been trying to get back into posting there. Recently, a post came up asking “What’s the difference between Bradley Method and Lamaze?” Its a question I hear quite often, so I decided to answer it. You can see the post in full here and I’ve copied and pasted my response below.
I just saw this now or I would have replied sooner. Full disclosure: I’m a Bradley Method Teacher in NJ and I kinda think they’re awesome, but I don’t have anything against Lamaze in general.
Lamaze has become a blanket term and not every class that says it is “Lamaze” is actually Lamaze based because of that. Crazy but true, as they really don’t go after anyone that uses the word Lamaze for whatever childbirth class they are teaching. Many hospitals have what I like to call “obedience training” for patients and claim it is Lamaze. What Lamaze has become today uses focal points, distraction, and breathing techniques. It is not focused on Natural Childbirth, though true Lamaze is supportive of it. They say they will educate you on all your options, which includes optional c-sections, epidurals and other drugs at birth so you can decide what will work for you. It does not put emphasis on fathers/partners acting as coach. Lamaze Educators create their own curriculum using the Lamaze guideline, their classes can be any length and duration the teacher chooses, and they can be accredited in a large amount of ways, including completely online. Because of this the knowledge of the teachers, what and how they teach in their classes is varied. You could take a 1 hour “Lamaze” class or a 6 week one and both would be called Lamaze though its obvious you would not get the same amount of information. They do not have a maximum number of students allowed at one time so depending on the location you could be one of 30 or more students. I’m not sure how their re-affiliation works or if there is re-affiliation. http://www.lamazeinternational.org/ChildbirthEducationTraining
The Bradley Method(r) of Natural Childbirth is very protective of their trademark so when you find a Bradley teacher you know they are accredited through AAHCC, and AAHCC only. http://bradleybirth.com The Bradley Method is a series of 12 classes (like training for a marathon) that helps prepare you physically, emotionally, and mentally for the birth and postpartum. Some teachers might do less classes, but they’re not really supposed to, however if you for some reason called way late they will probably help you out and not leave you in a lurch! Classes are intentionally required to be small- no more than 8 couples per session, often 2-5 couples. It places a lot of importance on the active participation of the loving partner as a coach and childbirth being the birth (or rebirth) of the entire family unit, and gives him/her loads of preparation to help mom during labor. It teaches that relaxation is key to a natural childbirth, how to stay low risk, nutrition, exercises, avoidance of drugs during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, natural abdominal breathing, tuning-in to your body, consumerism and making informed decisions about your care. It also does teach about emergency childbirth, medications, and c-sections, what they are, how they work etc, but it is unashamedly pro-natural childbirth as the name implies. You’ll also get information on breastfeeding and instructors must attend a certain amount of LLL meetings and re-read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding each year.
The method has really impressive numbers. Currently 87% of couples taking Bradley Classes go on to have spontaneous, drug free, natural, vaginal births. It is the most successful and long standing Natural Childbirth education in the country. All Bradley Educators are also Bradley Doulas, though they may not decide to attend births. Bradley Method teachers have had at least one Bradley birth and nursed their babies. They must attend a mandatory intensive 4 day in person workshop which is taught by the same set of people that have been teaching it since its inception, and candidates do months of papers, evaluations, book reports, etc. After they become provisionally accredited they must go through a period of probation where they have to write an evaluation on every class they teach for two 12 week sessions (6 months.) At the end of their teaching two sessions they take their final exam and if they pass they become fully accredited, can use the letters AAHCC behind their name and must re-affiliate and do continuing education each year.
Hope that helps!