What is Lamaze?

Isn’t Lamaze just another name for childbirth classes?  Lamaze is all about breathing your way through labor, right?  No, actually these are two current misconceptions about Lamaze based/inspired childbirth education that have come about because of the long history of Lamaze.

Most recently, I saw this in a movie I had borrowed from Netflix.  Maze, a movie written and directed by Rob Morrow was described as an artist with Tourette’s Syndrome and OCD falls in love with his best friend’s pregnant girlfriend and becomes her Lamaze coach.  My husband, being an artist, thought this was the perfect film for us.  Artist and childbirth educator.  There was something in it for both of us.  It was a great movie with a very happy ending, but the word Lamaze was misused on the sleeve.  The classes that the characters took were Bradley childbirth classes.  Bradley classes are not Lamaze.  While ideas from the two types of childbirth classes do overlap, the instructors trained through the respective organizations may take a different approach to teaching and some birth philosophy.  Some childbirth classes may be only for mothers preparing for natural childbirth.  Others may prepare mothers for only hospital policies and practices for birth.  Yet others might try to meet somewhere in the middle of these, providing information for decision making and comfort measures for laboring.   So, Lamaze is not all childbirth courses.  Lamaze is one type of childbirth course.  There are many different types of childbirth classes to choose from in some areas of the United States.  There is something out there for everyone.

Lamaze is, also, not just breathing.  What was “the Lamaze method” of childbirth our mothers and grandmothers might be familiar with isn’t really taught today.  Instead of teaching a prescribed way to breathe through our labor and birth, Lamaze has used current scientific research and experiences of birthing mothers to create a philosophy of childbirth.  Educators trained through Lamaze organizations are taught through this philosophy and equipped with the skills needed to help women have confidence in their ability to give birth.  Lamaze educators prepare women for many different varieties of labor and birth.  They also offer multiple ways to bring more comfort to the laboring woman during classes, so that mothers and those that are supporting the labor can find what works for them.  We are all unique.  What works for one woman, might not be the best choice for another.  With that in mind, you can rest assured that when you attend a Lamaze class, while breathing will be discussed, you won’t be sitting in the room panting or huffing and puffing as you may have seen on TV.  You will be doing many other fun things, however. 😉

The Lamaze Philosophy of Birth is the following:

  • Birth is normal, natural, and healthy.
  • The experience of birth profoundly affects women and their families.
  • Women’s inner wisdom guides them through birth.
  • Women’s confidence and ability to give birth is either enhanced or diminished by the care provider and place of birth.
  • Women have the right to give birth free from routine medical interventions.
  • Birth can safely take place in homes, birth centers, and hospitals.
  • Childbirth education empowers women to make informed choices in healthcare, to assume responsibility for their health, and to trust their inner wisdom.

The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence, by Judith Lothian RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE and Charlotte DeVries

As a Lamaze trained educator in southeastern Kentucky, it is my goal to:

  • Help women understand their options in childbirth
  • Answer women’s questions and to help them find the answers to those questions I can’t answer right away
  • Help women be fully informed decision makers during their pregnancy and birth
  • Offer current, reliable, research based information
  • Help women have confidence in birth and the journey to motherhood
  • Introduce women and their support to various comfort measures for labor and birth
  • Educate on the risks and benefits of medical interventions
  • Help women stay low risk, active, and healthy throughout their pregnancy and birth
  • Provide accurate information on early parenting decisions and breastfeeding
  • Give support and honor to one of the most beautiful times in a woman’s life
  • Have fun doing it!

So, take your time and look at the options of classes available in your area.  Know that Lamaze classes are not a “method” of childbirth, but rather an approach to looking at birth as a normal process of life.  Be sure to ask questions and know that taking a childbirth class should help you be informed about decisions regarding your healthcare and birth, and not simply telling you how things will go.

This video is an introduction to The Healthy Birth Practices as developed by Lamaze International.  Enjoy!

Many happy days to you and yours,

Kelli

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About Kelli

I am Kelli B. Haywood, LCCE, a childbirth educator certified through Lamaze, a birth doula, and prenatal yoga instructor. My two little girls light my life. I am the wife of artist, musician, and teacher - John Haywood.
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One Response to What is Lamaze?

  1. Yes! I loved my Lamaze class, and found it difficult to explain to people that what I was learning did not resemble what they had seen in movies. It was more about deep breathing, not the huffing we associate with it. I actually still use some of the techniques I learned when I deal with other kinds of pain.

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