Disclaimer: I think this post might be more for me than for any readers. I think I need to process through writing to try and figure out what I really want to do. As part of that, if you are interested enough to keep reading, I am happy to have feedback.
I am 7 1/2 months pregnant now. Wow, it's crazy to even write that. It seems like just yesterday I was 10 weeks along counting each day trying to move along to the next week and yet it was only so slow. Now, though I know which week I am in (31), I mostly keep track by month. That may not seem like much, but from a pregnant perspective, it's fabulous.
At this point, I have read a good number of books. I have read:
All are good books. What to Expect is the basics of pregnancy and all the various things that will happen during Dr. appointments and to your body and to your baby. It's like the encyclopedia of pregnancy.
Belly Laughs is a comic take on some of the crazy (to the non-pregnant or newly pregnant woman) things that happen during pregnancy.
Thank you Dr. Lamaze is old school but it is super insightful about the Lamaze Method (mostly known for the weird "hee, hee, hoo" breathing, but actually so much more) and what it actually aims to do. The woman who wrote it actually had Dr. Lamaze as her doctor in France in the late 1950s and she gives all kinds of insights about why the Lamaze method works (it's based on Pavlov's method and so you "train" your body to have the necessary "automatic" responses come time for labor and delivery). From what I've read, it was the pioneer in natural childbirth in the early to mid 20th century (when the accepted practice was to knock the mom out with gas and have her wake up after everything was already over). It aims to train your body and mind to stay "ahead of the pain" (acknowledging that there is pain during childbirth but that it doesn't have to be so extreme if you make your body work for you in the process).
Husband Coached Childbirth is written by Dr. Bradley of the Bradley Method. In essence, he is the modern (though he started practicing as an OB decades ago) proponent of natural (read: medication free) childbirth, which uses the husband/partner as the primary coach during labor. (Remember: for decades husbands/fathers were not allowed in the delivery room, they were kept in the waiting room). It advocates a method of childbirth that mimics what happens naturally (and easily???) for animals. It tries to parallel their breathing patterns, activity patterns, and positions asserting that childbirth is just as natural for humans as it is for animals and so we shouldn't make it so complicated. If we want it to be "easier" then we should go back to natural patterns that seem to work.
Happiest Baby on the Block is one I've read before (when my sister was pregnant with her first child) and I appreciate for the ways it teaches parents how to calm their babies.
Obviously, I've done a lot of reading. And, quite honestly, the debate in my head is now between methods for childbirth. At their core, Bradley and Lamaze propose the same thing: medication-free childbirth that helps the mom engage the process of labor and delivery. Both include the father in both the preparation and the delivery. The major difference seems to be that Lamaze seeks for you to be relaxed, though alert, to try and stay ahead of the pain. Bradley wants you to be relaxed and more relaxed, with little distraction and the father right by your side. (I don't really know a better way to explain it).
It's interesting having read the books because both were written when their methods were new and radical and not widely accepted. Both have a bit of a bias against "modern medicine" and hospitals. Bradley seems to have become known as adversarial against hospital staff including doctors and nurses.
We tried to ask our doctor for his honest input and advice and all we really got was diplomatic fluff. He said they want what is best for the mom and the baby and are good with pretty much any method. Which, on the one hand, I'm grateful for. On the other hand, he left things vague. We wanted to know which exercises and practices to work with. We wanted to know what seems to work best for his patients. We didn't get that input.
Instead, we've started the childbirth class the hospital offers, which, after just one class, was the most boring thing possible. It probably wouldn't have been bad if I hadn't read any books, but I have, so it just seemed really basic and as unhelpful as our doctor. So for now, I'm basically working the preparation and exercises of both methods with a hope that it'll all come out in the wash.