Why the Lamaze Class Near You Is Different

shutterstock_155809487You may have heard of Lamaze childbirth classes. “It’s that breathing method class, right?” “My mom took those classes when she was pregnant with me.” “Those are only for people who don’t want epidurals, right?”

The short answers to the above are, no, probably, and absolutely not! It’s true that Lamaze has been around for many years — 55 to be exact — but the Lamaze child birth classes of today are not what they were when your mom or grandma took them. The underlying message remains — that women deserve to be informed, prepared, and given choices for childbirth. But Lamaze classes today teach from 6 fundamental principles that help increase a woman’s chance of giving birth in the safest, healthiest, and most satisfying way. These 6 Healthy Birth Practices (see image below), along with additional information for breastfeeding, parenting, and postpartum, guide the content in your Lamaze class. Do you still learn about breathing during labor? Yes! But breathing (of which there are many ways to do so) is not a “method” but rather one of several ways to help cope with the pain of labor.

Lamaze classes teach about the “normal” process of birth (how birth can happen all on it’s own and how your body supports this process), as well as variations of what can happen during birth; the complete range of comfort measures, including those for “natural” birth and epidurals; how to choose the best team to support you in labor; and key information to plan for after the baby arrives, including how your body recovers best and breastfeeding information. Lamaze childbirth educators are known for their ability to present evidence-based information on pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding, and teach the information without judgement of choices made.

You can find Lamaze classes in a variety of settings and formats, including private, hospital-based, group classes, weekend classes, and 6, 8, or 12 week series. You’ll find that most Lamaze teachers aim to teach classes in a fun and interactive way — who wants to sit through hours of lecture after lecture?! Lamaze classes are hands-on, multimedia, and entertaining in addition to informative. Families come away with practical information they can use to prepare for their birth experience and beyond.

Want to learn more about the Six Healthy Birth Practices that today’s Lamaze education is based on? See the image below, and head over to the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices information page to read more and watch short, informative video clips on each practice.

Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices

Want to know more about what’s in a Lamaze class? Start here!


Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE, is a doula and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator at Simple Support Birth in Myrtle Beach, SC, as well as the community manager for the Lamaze parents’ blog, Giving Birth with Confidence. She is a doula and teaches private Lamaze childbirth classes in Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas, and is an active member of the Coastal Childbirth Collective, which brings resources and support to families in her community. Cara also lives a full life with her husband, three kids, dog, turtle, and 2 cute tree frogs that live on the back porch. 




Pregnancy, Birth… and Hurricanes? Preparing for Severe Weather Events During Pregnancy

hurricane-43880_640With Tropical Storm Erika — potentially soon becoming a hurricane — making its way to the Southeastern US, it’s a good time to talk about emergency preparedness considerations if you are pregnant and/or about to give birth. Of course, all of the standard Hurricane Evacuation Plan still apply, like knowing the hurricane evacuation route, having an exit plan, purchasing non-perishables, keeping medication on hand, etc. But if you are pregnant, and possibly approaching or near your due date, take additional precautions to ensure safety and comfort.


Tips for Weather Emergency Preparedness During Pregnancy

  1. Stay calm. Sounds silly, yes, but the less anxious, worked up, stressed, and alarmed you are about the possibility of a weather-related evacuation, for example, the better you will “weather the storm,” so to speak. Take time out to pause, take long, slow deep breaths, meditate, pray, or practice yoga — all of the things you might normally do to bring you peace.
  2. Call your doctor/midwife’s office. This is especially helpful if you are near your due date. Find out what the course of action is should you go into labor during an evacuation or severe inclement weather.
  3. Carry a copy of your medical records. This is helpful any time you travel. If you have to be treated or examined, or give birth, outside of your own care provider’s office or designated hospital, this will provide important information relevant to you and your baby’s health.
  4. Locate a back up. If you are evacuated, know your evacuation plan and location. Locate a hospital, OB office, or midwife near that area, in the unlikely event you may need medical attention.
  5. Stock up on water – and drink it! Make sure you have plenty of clean drinking water available to you. It’s important during pregnancy to always stay well hydrated, but with the added stresses of travel and an emergency situation, it will become even more critical for your safety. Dehydration can cause preterm labor. Plus, the availability of water during a weather-related event can be scarce. Be sure to buy plenty of bottled water prior to the storm’s landfall.
  6. Snack well. In addition to bottled water, consider purchasing some non-perishable, healthy, high protein snacks to keep on hand. Nuts, beef jerky, and protein or granola bars are great options.
  7. Don’t dwell on the worst case scenario, but think about it. Baby born in a car or on the side of the road likely tops the list of fears of many parents. It’s rare, but does happen. What to do if baby is born before getting to the hospital, keep your cell phone charged, and you’ll be prepared as you can be should this event occur.


Have you every experienced an evacuation due to weather, or a similar weather-related emergency? Please share tips and stories in the comments!


Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE, is a doula and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, as well as the community manager for the Lamaze parents’ blog, Giving Birth with Confidence. She is a doula and teaches childbirth classes in Myrtle Beach, SC, at Simple Support Birth, and is an active member of the Coastal Childbirth Collective, which brings resources and support to families in her community. Cara also keeps a full life at the beach with her husband and three kids. 

Finding a Good Childbirth Class in Your Area

photo 3If you think taking a Lamaze class is something only your mom did, think again. Childbirth classes, whether they are Lamaze, Hypnobabies, Bradley, Birthing From Within, or otherwise, provide education and confidence that is invaluable to your pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. But as you might imagine, not all childbirth classes are created equal. As important as it is to take a childbirth class, it is equally important to make sure the class you take teaches comprehensive (learning about all options) and evidence-based (credible, up-to-date, and using current research) information. How do you go about finding such a class? By following a few simple steps before choosing a class (the standard hospital childbirth class may not be your best option — it depends on who is teaching and what is being taught), you will increase your chances of having a helpful and enjoyable childbirth class experience.

  1. Learn about the options in your area. Depending on where you live, you may have access to all kinds of childbirth classes. Or you may not. Learn about what’s available by doing a simple Google search, checking on the webpage for your local Birth Network directory, searching DoulaMatch.net, or talking to a local doula or midwife.
  2. Research the types of childbirth classes. Once you know what’s available to you, spend a few minutes online reading about the different types of childbirth class. Think about your preferences and whether a Lamaze class or a Hypnobirthing class would be more up your alley.
  3. Certifications matter! Once you have a lead into a class, find out more about the teacher. Questions like, is she certified, how long has she been teaching, and what’s her teaching style, are important. Certification by an accredited childbirth education organization lets you know that your childbirth class teacher has gone through training and has met the organizations requirements for certification.
  4. Content is king. What will be included in the class? Are all options for important topics like pain relief and comfort in labor reviewed?
  5.  Ask around. Talk to family, friends, local doulas, and midwives to acquire feedback about the classes offered in your area. It’s likely that someone will have insight into the style of teaching and content covered. You may also consider asking your class educator for a reference from a former student.

One of the most common reasons expectant parents give for not attending childbirth classes is lack of time. You may be surprised to find out that childbirth classes are often offered in many different lengths and formats. For example, I teach a variety of length of Myrtle Beach Childbirth Classes. Depending on your educational needs and availability, I can tailor my classes to meet your unique needs. And consider this — how you give birth can impact you and your child for the rest of your lives. Are you willing to invest some time to prepare for that day?


Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE, is a doula and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, as well as the community manager for the Lamaze parents’ blog, Giving Birth with Confidence. She is a doula and teaches childbirth classes in Myrtle Beach, SC, at Simple Support Birth, and is an active member of the Coastal Childbirth Collective, which brings resources and support to families in her community. Cara also keeps a busy but beautiful life at the beach with her supportive husband and three active kids. 

Kate Middleton Shares Her Due Date… Or Does She?

Unless you’ve been living on a deserted island for the last few months, I’m sure you’re well aware that there will soon be another “royal” baby in the UK. After another severe bout with hyperemesis gravidarum, Kate Middleton began making regular public appearances again and appearing in tabloids and internet blog posts the world over sporting a beautiful baby bump and her signature glowing smile. Most recently, sources reported that she shared her spring due date. Princess Kate was quoted as saying:

“I’m due mid-April, to the end of April. Not long to go now.”

keep-calm-and-forget-due-datesTo this I say, GOOD FOR YOU, Kate! In our culture, the notorious “When are you due?” is in the top three questions for anyone who is pregnant, along with “Boy or girl” and “Is this your first baby?” The problem is, pregnant bodies don’t come with deadlines or expiration dates (trust me, I searched high and wide for them during each of my three pregnancies). Each pregnancy, including the length of said pregnancy, is unique. And while, yes, we have come up with a general average (40-42 weeks), there is no scientific method for determining when your baby will decide to be born! And yet. Yet care providers give us a due DATE. A single day upon which many family members, friends, spouses and partners, and especially very pregnant women hinge on when nearing the end of the third trimester.

One of the tricks, which Kate clearly has learned, to avoiding the barrage of questions, harassment, and impatience from others, is to never share an actual due date, but rather a time frame. In my third pregnancy (third time’s a charm!), I told everyone that I was due sometime in August. No dates, just a month. Not only did it cut down on the inquiries from others, but it reframed my own thinking to know that I could give birth sometime — anytime!– in August.

When I counsel pregnant families as a doula and childbirth educator, I encourage moms to toss aside their due date, and instead focus on what they will do around the time they are due.  I have a nifty little “Celebration Menu” for them to keep and fill out, but you can check out this article to help you plan your due date celebrations.


Tell us: How do you feel about your due date? Do/did you share a date or a time frame? 

Dads, Fathers, Partners, SO — Keeping Your “Other Half” Connected During Pregnancy & Birth

Often overlooked and seldom understood is the role a partner — be it spouse or significant other, male or female — plays during a woman’s pregnancy and birth. It’s easy to see (literally) why an expectant mom is the focus during pregnancy and birth. It’s her body with her baby physically attached! But dads and partners are also having their own special experience right alongside mom during this time. It just looks a little different, which is why it may be hard to appreciate and can lead to a disconnect in your relationship. While you will never be able to fully know each other’s experience, there are things you can do to connect and share in this awesome time together.

Attend prenatal appointments together. I know it’s not always possible, or may be really difficult to both attend a prenatal appointment, but doing so will allow your partner to take a more active role in your prenatal care. Plus, it’s helpful for your partner to get to meet and establish a relationship with your care provider, and ask any burning questions about pregnancy or birth.

Take a childbirth class. Wanna know a secret? Childbirth classes are really for dads! Ok, so that’s not exactly true. But. Taking a childbirth class can provide huge benefits in the way of providing pregnancy and birth information to the person who is not pregnant as well as the expectant mama. It also gives partners an opportunity to ask questions without fear of ridicule. There are no stupid questions!

Invite dad to feel baby kicks. Mom has the luxury of feeling baby kicks all the time, which provides a constant reminder of pregnancy. For most moms, feeling baby kicks and movement is one of the best parts of pregnancy. Inviting your partner to feel your belly when baby is particularly active helps make the experience more real and establishes a bond with baby.

Talk about non-baby-related things. Over the period of 40-42 weeks, pregnancy, birth, and babies can take up the majority of your conversations together. Be sure to spend time talking about other parts of your lives together. Balance goes a long way toward creating harmony.

Go out on dates. Creating a regular date night before baby comes helps you stay in the habit once baby is on the other side. Life with a baby is different, no doubt. But it’s not so different that you can’t maintain some of the same routines and rituals you had pre-baby. Focusing on your relationship as a couple will bring you closer and help you work better together through the new parents phase.

Hire a doula. A doula doesn’t replace dads or partners — a doula’s role is to compliment their support during birth. The best doula makes a woman’s partner look like a hero! Dads who have experienced birth with a doula report a sense of relief and reassurance that someone — besides him — will be there to look after mom and remember all the information from childbirth class and books. Most dads are positively enthusiastic about their experience with a doula.

Give yourselves a break. Pregnancy and the ensuing early parenthood time can be a difficult and stressful time for moms and dads alike. It can help if you lower your expectations and demands for yourselves and each other. You’ll get back to normal — or at least, a new normal!

How did you and your partner maintain a connection during pregnancy? What helped the most?


Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Care Provider

By now, you probably know that not all doctors are created equal. Some provide you with lots of detail about your health, some don’t; some greet you warmly and make you feel comfortable, some don’t; some invite you to be an active participant in your health care, some don’t. But beyond attitudes and bedside manners, care providers also vary widely in how they practice medicine, including birth.

So, what can you do to be sure that your care provider is the best care provider for you? Ask questions. Lots of questions. The following questions are meant to serve as conversation starters during prenatal appointments or as part of your care provider interview in early or pre-pregnancy. Choose questions that best fit your needs and preferences. Check your care provider’s answers against evidence-based standards for maternity care, most of which you can find at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Childbirth Connection. Take note of how you feel about your care provider’s answers — do they align with your idea of a healthy birth? Also, observe how your care provider responds to your questions. Is she receptive to answering your questions? Does he give you detailed answers? And finally, never underestimate the power of your gut instinct — if you feel like your care provider isn’t the best choice for you, find someone else who is.

  • How often do women get induced in your practice? For what reasons do they get induced?
  • If I haven’t gone into labor by 40 weeks and baby and I are still healthy, what will you recommend?
  • What reasons would you recommend a c-section?
  • Do you support VBAC?
  • How do you feel about me having a doula at my birth?
  • How will you make sure your I am actively involved in my care?
  • Do you routinely perform episiotomy?
  • Do you restrict eating and drinking during birth? Why?
  • Do you encourage women to give birth in other positions besides on their back?
  • How do you feel about natural/unmedicated birth? How often do you work with women who choose it?
  • Do you put a time limit on labor or can I continue to labor as long as baby and I are healthy?

For another great care provider interview resource, check out this article at Giving Birth with Confidence by Lamaze.

I would love to hear from you — what kinds of questions would you (or did you) ask your care provider?

photo source