Lamaze- Background and Practice

One of the most commonly taught childbirth methods known today is Lamaze.  It all began in 1951.  Dr. Fernand Lamaze first introduce a new childbirth method in France which combined childbirth education classes with relaxation and breathing techniques and emotional support from the father and the Lamaze instructor.  In the late 1950s, Marjorie Karmel popularized Dr. Lamaze’s ideas when she gave birth under his assistance and then wrote a book about her experiences called Thank You, Dr. Lamaze.  In 1960, Marjorie Karmel teamed up with Elizabeth Bing to create ASPO/Lamaze, which is now called Lamaze International.  This organization is a not-for-profit organization that has parents, childbirth educators, doctors, nurses and others spreading the word about Lamaze.

 The Lamaze Philosophy

The Lamaze Philosophy is based on a number of tenets.  They believe that birth is a normal process that should be guided by a woman’s self-intuition.  Both the care providers and birthing location can greatly enhance, or deter, a woman’s confidence and ability to give birth.  Birthing can be done anywhere that a woman is comfortable doing so – whether that’s in a hospital, a birthing center or a home.  Childbirth education, through Lamaze, is essential to help women to make informed decisions about their health, their health care, and their birthing method.

Lamaze has six care practices that they advocate to support women in having normal births.  They want these recommended practices to help women to listen to their innate wisdom and to give birth easily.  These practices include the idea that labor should begin on its own and not because of intervention.  Laboring women should move freely during their labor (and not be confined to a bed).  Laboring women should be supported during labor by their husbands or other helpers.  In an ideal situation, women should not have any intervention during the birthing process.  Women should not give birth on their backs, and they should not be separated from their baby after delivery.

Lamaze Today 

While Lamaze used to be primarily a birthing method, it is now more of a philosophy for helping women to prepare to give birth normally.  When most people think of Lamaze, they think of breathing techniques.  While Lamaze still teaches breathing techniques to aid in delivery, they are no longer the focal point of the program.  Lamaze classes are offered by trained educators who cover a wide range of topics including relaxation and breathing techniques, birthing positions, pain medication, episiotomies, breastfeeding, and much more.  A typical Lamaze class includes at least 12 hours of instruction with no more than 12 couples.  Many couples today find that Lamaze is the perfect mix for them – offering many birthing options without making value judgments about medicated births, unmedicated births, home deliveries, and so much more.  They educate without advocating a specific position, and this is one of the reasons that Lamaze is such a popular program today.



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