Lamaze - What are Common Lamaze Techniques?
The Lamaze Technique is a method of preparing for childbirth developed by a French obstetrician called Fernand Lamaze in the 1940s. The aim of the technique is to give women more confidence and even increased comfort during labor by teaching them certain breathing techniques and other coping mechanisms during the pregnancy, which they will then use when labor begins. There is no medical evidence as such that Lamaze techniques work, but many women all over the world have found them incredibly helpful. It's possible that Lamaze breathing techniques simply have a placebo effect - they give the woman in labor a sense of control over her own birthing experience, and they help to distract her attention from the pain she is going through. Lamaze techniques are taught to pregnant women throughout the United States - ask your pregnancy doctor where you can find a Lamaze class near you.
You should start Lamaze classes in the 7th month of your pregnancy - all being well, this should give you enough time to complete Lamaze training before your baby arrives. When you pick a class, look for one which has a certified Lamaze instructor. You can find a full directory of qualified Lamaze trainers on the official website of Lamaze International. The aim of the class is to enable you and your baby to have a normal and healthy birth experience, and to give you the confidence to decide what you want in terms of pain relief, birthing positions and epidural, etc. Expectant couples usually attend Lamaze classes together. Male partners are taught how to support their women as they give birth. Instructors welcome adult birth partners of all kinds - if a friend or another relative is going to be by your side when the time comes, then he or she should be with you at the Lamaze classes too!
The tuition will probably cover the following points (among others):
- Pregnancy health
- The optimal positioning techniques (having the mother move around and walk, for example) for helping to move the baby into the correct position for birth.
- Relaxation methods - breathing and massage techniques to help relief a woman's discomfort during labor and birth.
- Communication skills - how partners can communicate effectively with one another during the stress of labor and birth, and how they can communicate their needs/wishes to medical staff (for example, many women actually find it easier to give birth in a squatting or kneeling position, rather than lying down).
- Information on the medical procedures likely to be offered to, or performed on, a woman in labor, and about her rights to consent or refuse to have such procedures. The Lamaze technique puts particular emphasis on natural childbirth, but does not in any way judge women who opt for medical intervention and/or pain relief (if you want a prenatal class which specifically promotes birth without medication of any kind, try a class taught according to the Bradley Method - you'll find details online).
- Bonding with your baby immediately after birth, breastfeeding and postpartum health.
Ok, so toys are probably not the first thing you'd associate with giving birth, but there are certain "toys" such as Lamaze exercise or birthing balls, which can help to make a woman more comfortable during labor. These large, inflated rubber balls were originally developed as physiotherapy aids, but they're a great help for many women in labor too. They provide a soft but firm seat, and allow you to take the weight off your muscles. You can also squat on them during pregnancy and build up the strength in your leg muscles, which will help you to squat for longer periods during the last stage of childbirth. Other Lamaze equipment recommended for relieving pain during labor includes rocking chairs and even jetted water tubs.
Lamaze baby toys, as the name suggests, are not aimed at Moms! The Lamaze brand produces and sells a range of toys that promote baby development (hand eye coordination, gripping, focusing vision, etc.). These baby toys, as well as birthing balls and other labor aids, can be ordered online.
You'll find tons of Lamaze videos for free online (the site of Lamaze International is one source) which you can watch straight from your browser. If you want a more detailed Lamaze course - perhaps to teach yourself - consider ordering a Lamaze DVD via the internet to watch in privacy at home. (Bear in mind that organized Lamaze classes with a qualified instructor are still the best way to master the technique).