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Lamaze Isn't Just About Breathing

Last summer I took a course to become Lamaze Educated, essentially meaning I have the background training to sit and take the Lamaze Certification exam, which I plan for the fall at this point. And can teach childbirth education classes.

When I first started looking into becoming a childbirth educator, I didn’t realize how many different kinds of childbirth classes, and philosophies there are out there. It kind of blew my mind!

In the end, I decided on Lamaze. It was what I could relate to most, and the method I found to be most like my own personal thoughts on childbirth. I thought I would fit nicely into the community, and I have realized in this time, I was right!

During my process on becoming Lamaze educated I noticed a huge trend. Everyone still thinks that Lamaze is that ridiculous breathing that you always see in movies… Whoooo Whoooooo HEEEEEEEEEE in the back of a taxi cab, while the partner screams “Remember your Lamaze!” Ahh!   I think this is the first, and largest misconception today when it comes to what Lamaze is really about.  While there is a level of focus on breathing, the course as a whole is not focused around the late 80’s Look Who’s Talking birth scenes.

In the 1950”²s a man by the name of Fernand Lamaze, a French Obstetrician developed a method of breathing and relaxation to help women in labor, and coping with the pain of childbirth. Over the next decades Lamaze evolved into what it is today and has turned far away from the original breathing focused birth technique.  During this time, Lamaze has really changed from a method for giving birth to a philosophy that helps to educate women on what birth can and should be, while giving them confidence on birthing the way our bodies are intended to.

The Lamaze Philosophy of Birth includes :

  • 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 trust their inner wisdom.

That is a far cry from teaching women how to pant through birth through strange breathing techniques.

The words birth and experience are used a lot in the subject of childbirth education. Many feel as though the experience for mother and baby are not important as long as the end result is a healthy baby.  More and more modern day studies are showing this to be more and more inaccurate, as there are an increasing number of birth trauma cases that go hand in hand with the rising number of surgical births, and birth experiences that have a lot of medical interventions.

I think my favorite phrase I took out of my training was “Not your Ma’s Lamaze” because what the focus on today is certainly not the Lamaze our mothers and grandmothers knew.

photo: flickr.com/eyeliam

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