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What Is Lamaze?

Most pregnant parents have a vague idea of lamaze based on sitcom jokes that revolve around funny breathing. While there are plenty of birthing classes options, before you jump into one you should decide if lamaze is going to be the best choice for you during labor. Here’s a look at how lamaze started and what it involves. 

What is Lamaze?

Lamaze is a type of birthing class centered around teaching safe and effective means of birthing to expectant parents. Lamaze got its name from its creator, Ferdinand Lamaze, a French obstetrician, who picked up the idea from Russian observations. It became popular in the 1950s, and Lamaze International was established in 1960 by a group of people “whose mission is to advance safe and healthy pregnancy, birth and early parenting through evidence-based education and advocacy.”

Lamaze teachers are required to go through a series of classes to become Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators (LCCE). These training programs are part of American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Accredited Provider. Lamaze International teachers “promote, support and protect every woman’s right to give birth, confident in her own ability, free to find comfort in a wide variety of ways, and supported by her family and all members of the health care team.”

The 6 Healthy Birth Practices

Lamaze is built around 6 healthy birth practices. Lamaze makes an effort to include the most recent research in their practices, which means a constant update to provide moms with the best methods available. The steps included:

  • Let labor begin on its own.
  • Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.
  • Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.
  • Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
  • Avoid giving birth on your back, and follow your body’s urges to push. 
  • Keep mother and baby together. 

Unfortunately, despite the research that goes into these practices, not every woman is given access to this information—nor does every practitioner utilize the lamaze method. For women who opt for epidurals to dull labor pains, lamaze can be difficult to incorporate, as movement is largely forbidden once the epidural is given (the lower body becomes completely numb, which makes movement difficult and dangerous). Additionally, if you want plan to induce birth, this doesn’t mean you can’t make use of the other birthing practices. 

Lamaze for Partners

Childbirth is a frightening prospect for any woman, but childbirth can be even more frightening for the woman’s partner. Lamaze not only helps the mother understand what’s coming and how to handle it, but also helps whoever will be with the laboring woman know what to do for her while the baby is getting ready to make its appearance. Lamaze recommends knowing how you can help your pregnant partner in advance; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

As a partner, know not just what you want to do, but what you are capable of doing. Are you prepared to give the mother support in many different ways, or is someone else better suited for this role? Do you intend to stay in the background and let medical staff take control? Regardless, Lamaze International states that “simply being present makes a difference.” 

Furthermore, the mother is likely to be a little preoccupied, which means it is up to you to pay attention to what is going on and ask questions about anything that doesn’t seem to be going according to plan. In any case, mother and partner should not only attend the classes together, but discuss in detail what they expect from each other to prepare for a lot of intense emotions bouncing around the room.