Lamaze Method of Childbirth

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's position to using drugs during labor

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.

What to expect in a Lamaze course

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.

What is covered in Lamaze classes?

  • Normal labor, birth and early postpartum
  • Positioning to facilitate the normal progress of labor and birth
  • Massage techniques to ease the pain of labor and to enhance relaxation
  • Comfort measures, such as hydrotherapy, the use of heat, cold and pressure
  • Relaxation skills to use during labor and after pregnancy to relieve stress
  • Labor support advice for the partner and the professional (doula)
  • Communication skills between the pregnant woman and her partner, and with members of the healthcare team
  • Problems that could occur during labor and birth
  • Guidance for the pregnant woman to make informed decisions about anesthesia and medical procedures
  • Breastfeeding and the early postpartum period
  • Healthy lifestyles for pregnancy and postpartum period
  • Background about epidurals and other anesthesia choices to enable you to make the best choice for yourself
  • Breastfeeding and the early postpartum period

Typically, the class will have no more than 12 couples, and you'll also see movies of several births in preparation for your own.

Where to find more information

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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