Childbirth Choices Guide: Lamaze Childbirth Preparation

"Lamaze International envisions a world of confident women choosing normal birth."
-- Lamaze International Website

In France, the Lamaze method originally went by the rather optimistic name, "Painless Birth," and courses taught a regimented series of breathing exercises designed to distract the mother from labor contractions (never say "pains"). Over the years the Lamaze approach has redefined itself in terms of mission and method. The primary goal of today's Lamaze is to increase a woman's confidence in her ability to give birth through education and support. Today's Lamaze encourages women to trust birth, to actively work with their labors, and to choose care providers and places of birth that promote, protect and support normal birth.

The Basics
-- Lamaze courses generally involve six classes and at least twelve hours of instruction
-- Information about the simple story of labor, birth and early postpartum
-- A full repertoire of comfort strategies for labor including breathing, relaxation, touch and massage, hydroptherapy, music, imagery and positioning
-- Positioning and freedom of movement to facilitate normal labor and birth
-- Labor support, including ways in which partners or doulas help women move through labor
-- Information about how anesthesia and routine medical procedures, like restrictions on eating and drinking and movement, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and intravenous lines, alter the course of normal labor and birth
-- The importance of keeping mother and baby together from the first moments, and information about breastfeeding

What You Might Like
-- You will receive only evidence-based information -- not hospital or instructor opinions.
-- Lamaze leaves choices regarding medical intervention and pain relief entirely up to you. You will be encouraged to develop a birth plan that includes the personal ways you will stay confident, find comfort and be supported during labor.

Drawbacks
-- Because Lamaze has become synomous in many circles with preparation for childbirth, many classes call themselves Lamaze when they are not. Make sure that your instructor is up-to-date with certification and current methods.
-- Many Lamaze classes are taught in hospitals. Make sure that the instructors are not promoting methods that contradict hospital policy.

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