You 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.
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.