Birthing Methods

When you become pregnant, and especially in your third trimester, it's important to become informed about the medical procedures and risks associated with various methods of giving birth. You should also educate yourself about how your body works in labor especially if you're interested in natural birthing methods. Here are the basics of what you should know about birthing methods available.


Lamaze is one of the different birthing methods meant to encourage a non-medicated birth. The technique was developed in the 1940s by French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze who was inspired by Soviet childbirth practices where the midwife encouraged breathing and relaxation techniques. It gained popularity in North American in 1959 after Marjorie Karmel wrote the book Thank You, Dr. Lamaze.

With Lamaze birth is considered a normal, healthy process. Relaxation and massage techniques to manage pain are taught in classes. Emphasis is placed on living a healthy lifestyle and communicating with your health care team and partner during labor.

Bradley Method

Often called husband-coached childbirth, the Bradley method was popularized by Dr. Robert A. Bradley's 1965 book Husband-Coached Childbirth. The method emphasizes ways a woman can give birth naturally and without medication or surgery. Classes teach nutrition and relaxation as important aspects of a healthy pregnancy. Natural breathing is taught as a way of pain management. Partners are encouraged to attend classes and learn relaxation techniques that can be used to help their spouses through labor.


This is basically a type of self-hypnosis which is meant to teach you how to focus away from the pain of childbirth through intense relaxation techniques. Women are taught to bring themselves into a trance-like state and ultimately work with their bodies. The technique is based on the teaching of English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read in his two books, but especially his second book Childbirth Without Fear published in 1942.

Water birth

This method of giving birth involves immersion in warm water which is said to provide pain relief for the mother and a less traumatic birth experience for the baby. Water birth origins began in the 1960s when French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer used studies of water birth done by Soviet researcher Igor Charkovsky to immerse newborn babies in warm water to help them transition from the womb to the world. Another French obstetrician, Michel Odent, took this theory a step further by using a warm water birth pool as a way to provide natural pain management.

Birthing Methods Around the World

Acupuncture and acupressure is a pain-management technique that has been used for centuries by the Chinese and involves either the process of inserting tiny needles in specific points in the body, or physical pressure applied to those specific points. It was used to relieve aches and pains associated with pregnancy and assisted in overall pregnancy health. These techniques often provided a pain-free way of turning breech babies. This was collaborated by a 1998 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association where studies proved that acupuncture was effective at turning breech babies in 75 percent of the test subjects when combined with moxibustion.

Upright birthing was common in ancient times. Today 80 percent of ethnic groups in Asia, South America and Africa still practice this and give birth either sitting, suspend, on the knees or crouching. It helps the uterus dilate and makes it easier for the baby to emerge. In western countries women are typically encouraged to lie in bed for delivery. This process of birthing became common during the Victorian era.

Massage is still a commonly practiced birthing method in many places in today's modern world. In Morocco midwives, called qablas, massage a woman's stomach and genitals with olive oil to make the skin suppler and less likely to tear during a baby's passage. Herbal infusions are made of cloves, cinnamon, thyme and mint to ease the pain of contractions.

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