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What every expecting parent needs to know about Lamaze

It doesn't matter if it's your first or fourth child, every parent should take Lamaze classes

Pregnant woman on a bed
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While the woman having the baby is the only one giving birth, it is every partner’s responsibility to understand the whole process from start to finish. One supportive way all partners and expecting parents are ready for that delivery day is to take Lamaze classes. While you might think of the sometimes-funny hee-hee-who breathing, push scenes from TV, that isn’t how it goes anymore. The name might be the same, but the game has changed. Here’s why everyone who will be part of the birth needs to take Lamaze classes.

The history of Lamaze

A pregnant woman talking to her health care provider
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Thank French obstetrician Fernand Lamaze for coming up with the childbirth method in the 1950s. Dr. Lamaze, who developed it, based it on Russian psychologist I. Z. Vel’vovskii and neurologist K. I. Polatono’s theory of psychoprophylaxis, which applied the Pavlovian theory to the journey of childbirth. Yes, the Pavlov’s dog experiment person. It takes a village, and sometimes the village has scientists.

Dr. Lamaze brought the theory from Russia to France in 1951, applying it to women laboring in the hospital where he worked. American actress Marjorie Karmel was in France when she gave birth to her first child, used Dr. Lamaze’s method, and was so amazed she wrote about her experience. Her best-selling book Thank You, Dr. Lamaze, blew up in the U.S. in 1959. The methods taught from the ’60s (even up to the90s) are not exactly the same as those taught these days, but the basics still hold up.

What Lamaze means

Lamaze is not trying to have every woman have a pain-free childbirth. That would be impossible. But Lamaze is about getting your confidence up and giving you the most knowledge about childbirth so you will make the decisions about your labor fully informed. This is accomplished through breathing, movement, and listening to your body.

The breathing techniques reduce the pain and curb the need for medical intervention. But Lamaze isn’t teaching giving birth drug-free, no matter what, to have an experience so horrific you never have another child. Think along the lines of those who practice meditation being able to breathe into a headache and not have to pop a Tylenol.

Lamaze classes

A pregnant women talking to another person while sitting on the couch.
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Lamaze classes teach a six principal philosophy about giving birth. While it is focused on the birth, all partners or support persons in the birthing room should know them. These are guidelines for mom and baby to have the healthiest, happiest, smoothest birth possible.

Lamaze principals

  • Don’t force the labor; let it progress naturally.
  • Movement is key. Keep moving as much as possible during the entire process.
  • Make sure you have your support person/team.
  • Try to avoid medical interventions during labor.
  • Trust your body’s urge to push. When possible, do not give birth on your back.
  • Don’t separate baby and mom after birth. Skin-to-skin as long as possible.

If you have to deviate from any of these six things for emergency or medical purposes, you aren’t a bad mom, and you didn’t give birthwrong.Remember that.

What the Lamaze classes teach

Lamaze classes teach the mom giving birth and the support person valuable skills for the delivery room. It doesn’t matter if you give birth in a hospital, at home, or in the car on the way to the hospital because life happens — the information from Lamaze classes is crucial.

  • Physiology and anatomy of the birth process
  • Movement during labor
  • How to self-advocate during labor
  • Support person skills and how to support the birthing mother
  • Coping techniques (this used to be that breathing technique we all see in the movies)
  • How to get into the best and most comfortable position for birth
  • Pain intervention
  • Basic breastfeeding information
  • Newborn care tips
  • The postpartum trimester

These aren’t Grandma’s Lamaze classes. These are more empowering than ever before, with the focus on mom — where it deserves to be — and baby rather than only making sure you breathe the pain away. Information like how to speak up for yourself in the delivery room, how to change your delivery plan if you don’t think things are going well, how to keep your body as calm as possible while a human is trying to evacuate, and how to care for your newborn in those first days of absolute chaos are taught.

It isn’t about having theperfect birthbut trying to have the best birth for you. Whatever that looks like, Lamaze classes will mentally prepare you to pivot and adapt to whatever the labor throws at you. And it will have your support person ready to do something other than scroll on their phone or nap the whole time.

How to take Lamaze classes

A pregnant woman holding a laptop in her lap while holding her belly
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There are many ways to learn about Lamaze, so finding the fit for your schedule and comfort level shouldn’t be too difficult.

Take classes any way you want

  • Online
  • In person
  • One on one
  • In a group
  • At the hospital
  • At home, self-study

The trick is to make sure it is a Lamaze-certified class and not just a childbirth education class. A hospital might offer childbirth education classes focused more on what to expect while giving birth in that particular hospital, not Lamaze-based birth techniques. You can take the classes whenever you’d like, but it’s recommended during the last trimester when things like the baby shower and nursery are taken care of.

Giving birth would freak anyone out, and you never know what is going to happen in the delivery room. Have the confidence, the mental security, and the techniques to have the birth you want by taking Lamaze classes. Nothing in the journey of parenthood goes as planned, but in this case, you’ll have the tools to try.

    Dannielle Beardsley
    Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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