The Benefits Of Lamaze During Childbirth

You can’t truly prepare for the unpredictability of labor and birth, but a great way to learn about options is to take a Lamaze class. As a certified Lamaze educator, I want to help you understand what Lamaze is all about -- it may not be what you think.
Ami Burns

It’s not just about breathing
The “Lamaze method” was founded by Dr. Fernand Lamaze in France and includes breathing and relaxation techniques as well as continuous labor support -- having doulas before anyone knew what doulas were. This method became popular in America in the late 1950s, after a mom named Marjorie Karmel gave birth with his guidance, including breathing and relaxation techniques.

Fast forward to 2009 -- I receive many calls from expectant moms who want me to teach them “Lamaze breathing.” I quickly explain that today’s classes don’t teach mom how to “hee hee hoo” labor away. Breathing has benefits for mom and baby during labor, but Lamaze is no longer a “method,” it’s a philosophy of birth.

?According to Lamaze International:

  • Birth is normal, natural and healthy.
  • The experience of birth profoundly affects women and their families.
  • Women's inner wisdom guides them through birth.
  • Women's confidence and ability to give birth is either enhanced or diminished by the care provider and place of birth.
  • Women have the right to give birth free from routine medical interventions.
  • Birth can safely take place in homes, birth centers and hospitals.
  • Childbirth education empowers women to make informed choices in health care, to assume responsibility for their health and to trust their inner wisdom.

How Lamaze supports natural birth
This philosophy is based on the organization’s six care practices that support
normal birth:

1. Labor begins on its own
2. Freedom of movement throughout labor
3. Continuous labor support
4. No routine interventions
5. Spontaneous pushing in upright or gravity-neutral positions
6. No separation of mother and baby after birth with unlimited opportunity for breastfeeding.

Lamaze FAQs
Will my husband or partner learn how to coach me?
Just like classes not being about breathing, Lamaze classes don’t teach partners how to coach. After all, labor and birth is an amazing process, not the Super Bowl! Your partner will learn essential information about labor support to help support you during labor. Lamaze classes teach partners how to support moms -- and themselves -- during labor without pressuring them to “coach.”

I’m thinking about an epidural, so why bother?
Lamaze promotes normal birth, but classes are definitely not anti-epidural or intervention. You’ll learn about benefits, risks and alternatives to medication and intervention so that you can make informed decisions when you’re in labor. Bottom line -- you’ll learn the latest, evidence-based information to help feel empowered to make the choices that are best for you.

Where can I find a Lamaze class?
Your local hospital or independent community-based organizations may offer classes. For many people, Lamaze has become a generic term for “childbirth class,” so if taking genuine Lamaze is important to you, look for an instructor certified by Lamaze International. Educators may be nurses, midwives or other women interested in helping build confidence about labor and birth. You can also visit the Lamaze website to find a class near you.

Comprehensive childbirth education -- whether a Lamaze class or not -- is a great way to learn about your options for labor and birth. Attending classes will also give you the opportunity to meet families expecting babies around your due date.

Once you attend classes, own the choices you make. Trusting your instincts during labor is great preparation for parenting!

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