Lamaze childbirth classes give women and their partners the tools and techniques to deal with the process of labor and the information that will help them make intelligent decisions along the way. The goal is a healthy mother and baby, and a joyous memory to cherish for a lifetime.

Lamaze education includes the physical and emotional process of labor, techniques for coping with contractions and information about what options are available if complications arise. Class will also give you the confidence in your body’s natural ability to give birth. The goal is for you and your partner to be active and informed participants, and for your medical care to be individualized to your particular labor and preferences.

In the class you will learn:

  • How to recognize labor
  • When to go to the hospital
  • Positions for labor and pushing
  • Lamaze breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Choices for medication: their risks and their benefits
  • How to be an effective partner for a woman in labor

My Lamaze Complete Childbirth Education Classes consist of five main components:

1 INFORMATION

 

  • The physical and emotional process of labor
  • An understanding of the medical terminology such as dilation, effacement, station
  • Non-pharmacological methods of pain relief, including massage, hydrotherapy, positions, imagery, relaxation techniques, and breathing patterns
  • The essentials of labor support including touch, voice, and verbal suggestions and the knowledge to be an informed partner and advocate
  • The risks and benefits of medical interventions such as induction of labor, continuous fetal monitoring, epidurals and the use of pitocin

2 BREATHING PATTERNS

Every physical discipline including swimming, weight training, running, or doing yoga involves an attention to breathing, and labor is certainly a very physical experience. Tensing muscles during contractions uses unnecessary energy and holding one’s breath prevents the flow of oxygen to muscles and to the baby, so learning focused breathing patterns has both physical and psychological benefits. Lamaze breathing patterns are suggestions only, and women are encouraged to find the pace and pattern that feels most natural to them.

3 RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Tension is a natural response to pain but holding one’s breath or tensing muscles with contractions uses energy.  One’s tolerance for pain decreases with fatigue so learning to relax will help you to tolerate labor and save energy so you can push effectively.  Fear and tension also cause the body to produce adrenalin, which can impede cervical dilation.   Though it is “unnatural” to breath and relax with pain, it can be extremely helpful, and these techniques will be useful for life, not just labor.

4 Consumer activism

Your grandmothers labored alone without the support of a loved one, were heavily medicated, gave birth on a cold, stainless steel delivery table, and watched as their babies were taken away to the newborn nursery. The changes that have taken place have not been doctor or hospital driven – they have been responses to the demands of couples for a more family-centered and humane birth experience. Learn what obstetrical care is evidence-based, what issues you might want to discuss with your doctor or midwife ahead of time (such as eating at the hospital and the ability to assume the labor and delivery positions that you choose), and how to negotiate for the birth you want.

5 CONFIDENCE BUILDING

One of my clients said it all: “Thank you so much. You really had a way of making me feel much more relaxed and that this is an experience to welcome and treasure, not to fear. Your classes were very informative and I feel like I am as prepared as I can possibly be. Thank you for that.”

THE HISTORY OF LAMAZE

In the middle of the 20th century, laboring women were heavily sedated and forceps were more the norm than the exception. Pubic shaves, enemas, and episiotomies were routine for every woman.  Obstetricians held newborns upside down by their feet and babies were rigorously massaged to stimulate breathing since their respiratory systems were so depressed by the drugs given to their mothers during labor.

In 1951 Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, a French obstetrician, attended the International Congress of Obstetricians and Surgeons in Leningrad, Russia. He had heard about a new method of pain control used by laboring women called psychoprophylaxis, literally meaning, “mind control.” He was able to witness a full labor and delivery during which this technique was employed, and his reaction was one of utter amazement. “I had, at the time, thirty years of experience as an obstetrician. I had never been taught anything like this. I had never seen it, (childbirth without drugs) nor had I ever thought it could be possible. My emotion reaction was therefore all the stronger. I made a clean sweep of all preconceived ideas, and, now an elderly schoolboy of sixty, I immediately began studying this new science.”

Dr. Lamaze brought the technique back to France and started teaching this new method of preparation for childbirth. Marjorie Karmel, one of his patients, experienced the wonder of being “awake and aware” when she had her first child in France. Back in America, she wrote an article for a women’s magazine entitled “Thank You Dr. Lamaze” which sparked a tremendous response. She and Elisabeth Bing, founded The American Society for Psychoprophlaxis in Obstetrics in 1959. The organization was later renamed, Lamaze International.