Not so long ago attending Lamaze classes was all about the breathing and learning how controlled breathing could help a Mum to be during labour. These days Lamaze has evolved further though and it now encompasses a comprehensive methodology to the whole childbirth process and is used every day by hundreds of labouring Mums to Be all over the world.
Who The Heck was Lamaze Anyway?
The Lamaze technique was the brainchild of a French doctor Fernand Lamaze. As an obstetrician he became interested in finding ways to help women better deal with the pain and difficulties involved in labor without having to resort to heavy doses of pain medication and other forms of medical intervention.
He based many of his techniques on things he had observed Russian midwives doing to assist their patients in labor, including controlling the breathing and massage. His work first became popular worldwide in the 1950s and the Lamaze International organization that now oversees Lamaze education all over the globe was founded in the 1970s after the use of the in labour epidural and other more significant chemical pain relief measures became far more widespread.
What Do Couples Learn at Lamaze Classes?
Women (and their partners) who are interested in using Lamaze techniques during the birthing process are advised to begin taking classes well before the baby’s due date. These classes are offered at hospitals, specialist birthing centres and even by some doctor’s practices and are taught by certified instructors who have undergone significant amounts of training in the practices and theories behind the Lamaze Techniques.
The biggest theory behind Lamaze is that when she is allowed to a woman in labour will naturally move, sway or rock her way into a more comfortable zone and will find her own unique breathing pattern that provides her with comfort from the pain and effort of labour and allows her body to begin releasing extra endorphins – which are sort of like nature’s painkiller.
The idea behind the focused breathing techniques Lamaze teaches is that by focusing on one aspect of what is going on around her – in this case her own breathing – a woman in labour is distracted from the pain she is in and it moves to the “edge” of her mind and is less intense.
Contrary to what you may have heard Lamaze teaches that there is no right way to breathe, only what is right for you. This right for Mum thinking now also extends to adding other elements into the birthing process including incorporating greater movement where possible, massage, using something to help with visualization, listening to music, basically whatever makes the Mum to Be feel better even if that is chanting or praying, even moaning that other in the room may find strange (your doctor will not though – he or she will have seen it all before, many, many times)
What if Lamaze Fails?
Sometimes a couple will go into the hospital determined that the Mum to be is going to use Lamaze Techniques to avoid medical interventions and they are not going to be swayed. Things do not always work out that way though and remaining flexible is often a better idea. A Mum in labour who is under greater than normal stress can lead to a baby who is under stress too, something that is good for neither of them. If you truly can no longer handle the pain ask for other help. There is no “shame” in doing so, you will not have “failed” if you opt for a medical intervention in the form of pain relief when you had not intended to, especially since the end result you are looking for is a happy healthy baby and how you get to that point is going to be very irrelevant once that bundle of joy arrives.
Note: This is one of the many labor-series of articles planned out for MyPregnancy.sg. Do check back at http://www.mypregnancy.sg/category/labor/ for more ways of labor