“The Lamaze philosophy of birth stipulates that “birth is normal, natural, and healthy” and that “women have a right to give birth free from routine medical interventions.” But Lamaze courses typically don’t take a hard line against pain relief medication during labor. The curriculum emphasizes giving women the information and tools to feel confident about giving birth and empowered to give true informed consent about medications and other interventions” -Babycenter.com
Author: Angela Pruder
As part of a natural childbirth, expectant mothers are often taught the Lamaze technique. First developed in the 1940s by a French obstetrician, Lamaze is used as an alternative to the intervention of modern medicine when a woman is in labor. Lamaze soared in popularity after the publication of a 1959 book, in which the author explained her experience with the innovative birthing technique.
As part of it’s technique, Lamaze teaches breathing and relaxation exercises that are to be utilized during natural childbirth. Women can enroll in Lamaze classes alone or with their partner, which is preferable to help provide support. Conventional Lamaze classes also teach the pregnant woman how to reduce pain during childbirth, including the use of hot and/or cold backs, alternating positions, the benefits of remaining in an upright position and ways to promote labor.
According to Lamaze International “The six care practices below are supported by research studies that examine the benefits and risks of maternity care practices. Therefore, they represent “evidence-based care,” which is the gold standard for maternity care worldwide. Evidence-based care means “using the best research about the effects of specific procedures, drugs, tests, and treatments, to help guide decision “Normal”-making.”
The six care practices that support normal birth are:
- Let labor begin on its own (no pitocin, membrane stripping, etc.)
- Allow freedom of movement throughout labor (no IVs, being stuck in bed)
- Offer continuous labor support (positive support, birth partner or doula)
- No routine interventions (every procedure should have a valid medical reason)
- No separation of mother and baby after birth with unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding (don’t let your baby out of your sight) – Lamaze International
Use spontaneous pushing in upright or gravity neutral positions (childbirth should never be attempted in a supine or semi-reclined position – it is the worst position for childbirth)
Lamaze classes are taught locally by someone who is knowledgeable regarding the subject and are often held in a clinic or hospital. Classes are taught regularly and on a schedule, which the pregnant woman and her partner should attend. It is best to not miss even one class if possible as every one will provide valuable insight into the process of natural childbirth. In an effort to be convenient, Lamaze classes are most commonly held in the early evening.
When enrolling in Lamaze classes, it is best to do so as early as possible. There are no requirements as to the stage of pregnancy before a woman can enroll, which allows a woman to learn as much as she can early on in her pregnancy. If there is time before the due date, the expectant mom may even have the opportunity to take a refresher course on Lamaze.
In some instances, an expectant mother may be able to hire an in-home Lamaze coach to help her through the process of natural childbirth. Many women prefer this practice as opposed to a class full of others, but hiring a private Lamaze teacher will likely carry some type of fee.
For more information, scheduling and/or the location of upcoming Lamaze classes, expectant mothers can ask their physician about area classes, check the yellow pages or visit Lamaze.org. In addition, he/she will be able to answer questions regarding natural childbirth. The information in this article is to be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a recommendation for, or against, natural childbirth. A physician will be able to assess each individual situation and determine a birthing method that is most safe for both the mother and child.
If you are going to attempt a natural birth in a hospital setting (that is an oxymoron folks) first of all keep in mind that a truly natural birth is only possible at home. If you still want to have a hospital experience that is as natural as possible, then please educate yourself. Go to a childbirth class.
My monster of a midwife (Gail Heathcote, Grand Rapids, MI) actually told me not to bother going to a childbirth education class. She told me that “I did not need it” (whatever that means). Turns out she bulldozed over me during the childbirth and I let her because I trusted her. NEVER trust your care provider. They are always in a hurry, want to make money from the procedures and that takes precedence over your best interest and that of your child.
Take a class, read books, write birth plans and make them sign it in front of witnesses. A birthing class such as Lamaze will give you the tools to stand up to your hospital birthing attendants who will inevitably do “things” to you and your baby unless your baby is halfway delivered as you pull into the parking lot.
Buy the book: The Official Lamaze Guide
Subscribe to the weekly email service for pregnant women from Lamaze International. We developed and launched it last year to provide a natural birth alternative to the popular, commercial weekly emails. Ours is intended to help women maked informed choices based on evidence and build confidence in normal birth. In addition to the Healthy Birth Practices, the emails provide information about many different topics including home and birth center birth, nutrition, vbac, rights to informed consent/refusal, mother-baby attachment, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, etc. Much of the content is adapted from The Official Lamaze Guide, we have an “Ask the Lamaze Educator” column providing actual answers written by volunteer Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educators, and the remaining content was written by me (I am a home birth CNM) and Suzy Delaney, who is a home birth CPM.
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Want to learn more about Lamaze? Make sure you visit our site at: www.lamazeguide.info for access to additional Lamaze tips and information.
Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/hodgiemullo/1340059239/