Popularized in the early 1950s by French obstetrician Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, who discovered the psycho prophylaxis technique on a trip to Russia. Lamaze today is much more than simple breathing techniques: Emphasizing pain management through relaxation and breathing exercises. The belief is that a woman in labor is able to condition her responses to contractions through breathing and imagery to reduce her pain. Also, the class stresses education, preparation, and your role as an informed patient.
Lamaze courses characteristically don't take a hard line for or against the use of pain relief or anesthesia during labor; instead, the course emphasizes making a knowledgeable decision.
In class you'll learn and practice relaxation, visualization, breathing techniques, and comfort measures, as well as everything you always wanted to know about labor. A typical Lamaze class consists of at least 12 hours of instruction.
Typically, the class will have no more than 12 couples, and you'll also see movies of several births in preparation for your own.
For information about classes taught by certified Lamaze instructors, call Lamaze International at (800)368-4404, or visit their Web site at www.lamaze.org.
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