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Childbirth Alternatives: Lamaze Offers Time-Tested Ideas

Posted: Pregnancy & Birth » Labor & Delivery | June 1st, 2005



By Chaka Mickle

Lamaze childbirth classes focuses on educating and empowering women. They do not promise a painless childbirth experience, but help women understand the value of pain during labor and birth. Lamaze also teaches the mother-to-be and her support person how to respond to pain in ways that help labor as well as increase comfort levels — and yes, some of those comfort measures discussed include medications such as epidural anesthesia.

What is Lamaze?
Lamaze originally got its name from Dr. Fernard Lamaze, who became interested in using psychological methods to decrease a women’s pain perception during labor. It became popular in the United States and by 1965, Lamaze became the first education and certification program for childbirth education.

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Lamaze’s popularity stems from its concern and focus on the mother. Lamaze advocates for practices that are best for the woman rather than the practices of the facility she chooses to deliver in. Just as every woman is different, every labor and delivery experience is different — and therefore, care and treatment will be different for every woman. Lamaze’s experienced educators equip women and support people with the necessary tools to make informed decisions.

What is the Lamaze philosophy?
Lamaze International’s goal is to create confident women choosing a normal birth. This vision is manifested through six practices:

• allow labor to begin on its own
• provide freedom of movement during labor
• provide continuous labor support
• prohibit “routine” interventions
• use non-supine positions for birth (such as upright or side-lying)
• do not separate mother and baby after birth, providing unlimited access to breastfeeding

These care practices are supported by research and are the gold standard for maternity care practices worldwide.

Who teaches Lamaze?
The road to becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators (LCCE) is not easy. Candidates are often educators, midwives and midwifery students, doulas or nurses. There are three pathways from which to choose to become certified, all of which require at least 144 hours of childbirth education teaching experience and 30 contact hours of continuing education. Once these requirements have been met, candidates become eligible to sit for the LCCE exam.

What do Lamaze classes offer?
Selecting a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator ensures that you will be attending a class taught by a competent, highly qualified educator who can help you truly informed decisions about your health care. This is possible not only because of the educator’s experience but because of the class size as well. Lamaze class size consists of six to 10 couples, with a maximum of 12 couples. With this class size, couples can be given individualized attention.

The Lamaze childbirth class curriculum consists of at least 12 hours of instruction. Emphasis is placed on practicing position and relaxation, but time for class discussion is allowed as well. Couples not only learn about the labor process and how to cope, but also about medical procedures, breastfeeding, communication skills and how to have a healthy lifestyle after their new arrival.

How can you find a class or instructor?
You can find a facility that offers Lamaze classes or find a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator by visiting Lamaze International at www.lamaze.org or calling (800) 368-4404.

When women are aware of the process of normal birth, possible interventions and their rights as a laboring woman, their confidence in the ability to give birth increases. With this confidence comes a decrease in anxiety, tension and pain, leading to a better, more rewarding birth experience.

© Chaka Mickle

Chaka Mickle, MSN, MPH, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, is a hospital-based lactation consultant and a women and children’s health educator in Columbia, South Carolina. She’s the mother of an active 5-year-old son and a Labrador retriever.

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