Grantly Dick-Read Childbirth Method

Grantly Dick-Read Childbirth Method


Childbirth education classes allow expectant mothers to spend time with other pregnant women who are experiencing the same fears and discomforts for the upcoming labor and delivery. Nowadays, couples are attending specific types of childbirth education classes for several reasons. One of these is to prepare themselves for labor and delivery. Others are just tagged by friends and there are some who are just joining the sessions because they know they have to. To sum it up, people are joining childbirth education classes because they want become oriented about the upcoming event in their lives (labor and delivery) and they want to make the moment as a much as possible comfortable and valuable both for the newborn and the mother herself.

There are different theories governing the childbirth methods. All of these techniques help expectant couples to anticipate and prepare for what to expect during labor and delivery. Though the theories are different all the childbirth methods are promoting comfort and relaxation to the mothers and newborns making the event a less stressful and fulfilling experience.


Grantly Dick-read Method is a psychophysiological preparation for childbirth. This technique alleviates pain during childbirth by blocking feelings of fear and tension.


Dr. Grantly Dick-Read is an English obstetrician who was practicing medicine in 1900’s. To alleviate pain during childbirth Dr. Dick-Read was administering chloroform (generally given routine in those times during the last stage of labor) to women. One woman whom Dr. Dick-Read handled refused chloroform for pain relief. After this woman gave birth, the gynecologist’s curiosity led him to ask why she had not accepted the drug. The woman responded that it did not hurt since delivery was not meant to injure and hurt women.

The woman’s experience of a painless delivery without taking chloroform led Dr. Grantly Dick-Read to study and observe about childbirth in natural process. He wrote these observations and data in a manuscript entitled, “Natural childbirth.” His work brought personal and professional ridicule, but that did not stop him from sharing his thoughts and beliefs.

On 1933 his book, “Childbirth without Fear,” was published. He explained in this publication that no physiological function in a person’s body can give rise to pain under the condition that it is of normal course of health. Unless a disease process is taking place, pain or agony would associate delivery.


Women who had been prepared for childbirth still experience pain because of fears associated with the event. Dr. Dick-Read postulated that this fear felt by women during delivery causes the blood to be carried away from the uterus to be used by the muscles needing it due to perceived pain. This results to an unoxygenated uterus which would be unable to perform its function well leading to pain, a phenomenon called “the fear-tension-pain syndrome.” Dick-Read believed that presence of fear and tension result to labor pains. Thus, eliminating fear would increase blood supply to the uterus and alleviating labor pains. He also identified that laboring women needed constant emotional support to help them cope.


To prevent the fear-tension-pain cycle Dick-Read developed a method of slow abdominal breathing in the early stage of labor and rapid chest breathing in the latter stage. A woman should break the chain of events occurring (between fear and tension or tension and pain) to reduce the pain during contractions. Relaxation, comfort and minimal pain are achieved only if the woman focuses on abdominal breathing during contractions.

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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