What is Lamaze?
In 1951, Dr Fernand Lamaze introduced a method of childbirth in France by incorporating techniques he observed in Russia. This method, consisting of childbirth education classes, relaxation, breathing techniques and continuous emotional support from the father and a specially trained nurse, became known as “the Lamaze method.”
Word of mouth spread in the United States during the late 1950s, after Marjorie Karmel gave birth assisted by Dr Lamaze and she wrote of her childbirth experience in Thank You, Dr. Lamaze. The book inspired many women to approach childbirth as a shared event for both mother and father.
Established in 1960, Lamaze International is a non-profit organization that promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting
Lamaze education and practices are based on the best, most current medical evidence available. They can help reduce the use of unnecessary interventions and improve overall outcomes for mothers and babies.
Lamaze takes the mystery out of childbirth. It helps you better understand how your body works and what you can do to benefit yourself and your baby during the childbirth process. Lamaze helps you feel more prepared for birth, so you can achieve a safe and healthy experience.
According to Lamaze International:
- Birth is normal, natural and healthy.
- The experience of birth profoundly affects women and their families.
- Women’s inner wisdom guides them through birth.
- Women’s confidence and ability to give birth is either enhanced or diminished by the care provider and place of birth.
- Women have the right to give birth free from routine medical interventions.
- Birth can safely take place in homes, birth centres and hospitals.
- Childbirth education empowers women to make informed choices in health care, to assume responsibility for their health and to trust their inner wisdom.
How Lamaze supports natural birth
This philosophy is based on the organization’s six care practices that support normal birth:
- Labour begins on its own.
- Freedom of movement throughout labour.
- Continuous labour support.
- No routine interventions.
- Spontaneous pushing in upright or gravity-neutral positions.
- No separation of mother and baby after birth with unlimited opportunity for breastfeeding.
Attending a Lamaze class will also give you the opportunity to meet families expecting babies around your due date.
Once you attend classes, own the choices you make. Trusting your instincts during labour is great preparation for parenting!
Do you teach breathing methods?
For a long time, Lamaze classes were synonymous with breathing. So much so that they affectionately became known as the “huffing and puffing” classes. Lamaze today is not the Lamaze from your mother’s generation. While breathing is still acknowledged to be a valuable relaxation tool in labour, we don’t teach “methods” or “techniques” for breathing in labour. Instead, women are now taught a wide variety of comfort measures and relaxation techniques that can be extremely helpful in labour.
Will my partner learn how to coach me?
Just like classes not being about breathing, Lamaze classes don’t teach partners how to coach. After all, labour and birth is an amazing process, not a footy match!
Your partner will learn essential information about labour support to help support you during labour. Lamaze classes teach partners how to support mums – and themselves – during labour without pressuring them to “coach.”
I’m planning to have an epidural, so why bother doing this course?
Lamaze promotes normal birth, but classes are definitely not anti-epidural or necessary medical intervention. You’ll learn about benefits, risks and alternatives to medication and intervention so that you can make informed decisions when you’re in labour. Bottom line – you’ll learn the latest, evidence-based information to help feel empowered to make the choices that are best for you.
What will I learn in the course?
The following topics are all covered in our Lamaze courses:
- The basic anatomy and physiology of pregnancy
- Stages and phases of labour
- Birth location options
- What to take to the hospital
- How to tell if you are in labour and when to go to the hospital (if you are choosing a hospital birth)
- Comfort measures for the physical discomforts of late pregnancy
- Physical changes in your body during the 3rd trimester
- The role of hormones in labour and postpartum
- Comfort measures such as breathing, use of heat and cold, hydrotherapy, massage, counter-pressure and positioning in labour
- The role of pain in labour and how to work with it
- Communication skills to help you work most effectively with your health care providers
- Common hospital procedures and interventions
- Caesarean birth
- The importance of continuous emotional and physical support
- Relaxation and visualization techniques
- Beneficial positions for pushing and delivery
- The postpartum period for mother, her partner and baby
- Newborn care
- Support and resources for new mothers in Melbourne
Does the course cover postpartum care, newborn care and early parenting?
Definitely! Lamaze courses recognise the importance of covering pregnancy, birth and early parenting and so these areas are all covered in a Lamaze course. We cover newborn care, a comprehensive overview of breastfeeding, what to expect in the first days, weeks and even months of your baby’s life, baby blues and postpartum depression (mothers and fathers). We will also look at the change in personal identity for mum, and possible changes in the relationship between couples, families and friends.
“I would highly recommend this course to any new mum. It is great to feel confident about something so important”.
~ Hilary, Yarraville
When is the best time to take a Lamaze course?
We recommend taking a course when you are in your third trimester (30 weeks +). That way, the information you learn in the course will be fresh in your mind when you go into labour and you and your partner will be able to use the skills you learned and put them into practice! However, for your comfort we also recommend that you finish the course no later than around 36 weeks.
I’m planning to take the prenatal course my hospital is offering. What’s the benefit of taking a Lamaze course as well – or instead of?
First of all, there are good hospital classes out there, but hospital classes tend to be very large, impersonal, and often based off outdated evidence. Hospital classes also tend to focus on the logistics of giving birth in that particular hospital and generally have a very medical approach to labour and birth with minimal (if any) time set aside for practical skills such a relaxation, comfort measures and very importantly, questions.
Our classes are small and intimate (never more than 8 couples) and this allows for a lot of flexibility in the course material. You can be assured that all the information in a Lamaze course is based on the best, and most recent evidence-based research and that couples will learn everything they need to know in order to make the best, informed decisions about the labour and their baby’s birth.
In addition to my partner, can my doula/mum/labour support person also attend the course?
The Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice 3 is; “Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support” so the answer is a definite yes!, if that person is planning to support you in labour then you are more than welcome to have them attend the class with you.
I’m a single mum-to-be. Can I still attend the course even if I don’t have a partner?
Single mothers-to-be are welcome to come to our course. We suggest you bring along a friend (or your doula) as you’ll want to have someone who can learn the massage and comfort techniques to help you during labour. So, choose someone who will be there to support you during your birth and bring them along.
Do you serve the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex) community?
Absolutely! Our classes are inclusive, warm and welcoming of all types of families. Please join us; we’d love to have you in our class.
Do you offer private classes?
Yes, we do. Please check out our “Private Childbirth Courses” page for more information.
Do you allow midwifery students, doulas, or trainee childbirth educators to observe classes for training or certification requirements?
Yes, we do, and at no charge! However, we only allow ONE observer per class out of respect for the enrolled families. If you are interested, please contact us quickly to reserve your spot. We also ask that you be respectful of the couples attending the class. While we value your insight, please keep the scope of the class and our time constraints in mind. Any questions about the material should be addressed outside of class time.
I just wanted to say thank you again for letting me sit in on your class. You were absolutely amazing and so very knowledgeable. The information you gave was great and I definitely feel all those couples would feel so much better prepared after attending yesterday. I will definitely recommend your classes to all my follow through women, and whoever I bump into that’s pregnant!