Are childbirth education classes even worth my time and money?
Absolutely, and here’s why. Yes, you learn about preparing for childbirth in a practical and hands-on way as well as how to have a healthy pregnancy, but it also helps you to slowly build your birth philosophy and values, two things you will fall back on as you progress throughout your pregnancy and especially during labor and delivery.
Consider this: If you decided to run a marathon, would you wake up that day and just start running? Of course not! You would train and strengthen both your mind and body to complete such an intense and rewarding task.
The same goes with childbirth education: It is about preparing your mind and your body for one of the most important experiences of your life.
But isn’t Lamaze just breathing techniques?
Lamaze is not just breathing techniques! (see myths below)
You might be familiar with Lamaze because it’s been a household name for decades. You might also have seen parodies of Lamaze in movies of a woman breathing rhythmically, while frantically on her way to birth. I can honestly say that Lamaze is not what you might think or how it is parodied or portrayed. It’s so much more! That said…
What is Lamaze all about?
Lamaze is all about increasing women’s confidence in their ability to give birth. Lamaze classes do this by helping women to discover their innate ability to give birth. It’s about empowerment. It’s about having a safe and healthy birth by learning from a curriculum backed by the most current maternal and child health research. For these reasons, especially the focus on current research and engagement of trending topics, I chose to be trained in Lamaze.
Lamaze stands by 6 Healthy Birth Practice in its curriculum:
1. Let labor begin on its own.
2. Walk, move around, and change positions during labor.
3. Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.
4. Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
5. Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.
6. Keep baby and mother together: it’s best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding
What if I’m not sure about the type of birth I’d like to have?
That’s okay! Being a doula, I know firsthand that birth is very unpredictable. Even when we “plan,” we are often surprised! Taking childbirth education courses is not about locking in the details of a future event. It’s about being an informed decision maker.
Whatever type of birth you choose or have, taking childbirth education will be a great way to learn about your body, prepare for the decisions you may encounter, and to gain confidence in your ability to give birth. If you want to be an informed decision maker who knows her body and has confidence in her abilities to give birth, then childbirth education is a good choice for you.
Where can I learn more?
I encourage you to browse the Lamaze website at www.lamazeinternational.org. I also encourage you to contact me with any questions. I’m very passionate about childbirth education, so I am ready and willing to discuss the class with you!
Okay, I think this is something I want to do:
To find out more information about upcoming classes, please email me (see the “Contact Christina” section in the footer of this page). I’m happy to tell you about upcoming courses. Classes are capped at a maximum enrollment, so please contact me soon. Most classes are around 6-8 couples. Having a partner at class is not a requirement. You may also feel free to bring along someone, who will be with you at your birth, as you go through classes.
The Five Biggest Myths about Lamaze:
There are many myths about Lamaze! This page is dedicated to dispelling some of those, so that you have a better understanding of what Lamaze is and is not.
Myth #1: Lamaze is all about breathing.
Reality: The goal of Lamaze classes is to increase women’s confidence in their ability to give birth. Lamaze classes help women discover their innate ability to give birth. Women learn simple coping strategies for labor, including focused breathing. But breathing techniques are just one of many things that help women in labor. Movement and positioning, labor support, massage, relaxation, warm baths/showers, and the use of heat and cold are some others.
Myth #2: Lamaze promises painless childbirth.
Reality: Many women are afraid of the pain that is a normal part of childbirth. The pain of labor and birth, like other pain, protects us. Responding to the pain of contractions – by changing positions and moving, by massaging, by moaning – actually strengthens the contractions, helps the baby settle into the pelvis and move through the birth canal, and reduces pain perception. Some women find that experiencing and coping with the pain of labor and birth is similar to the hard work demanded by dancers and athletes. Lamaze classes help women understand the value of pain and learn how to respond to pain in ways that both facilitate labor and increase comfort.
Myth #3: Lamaze childbirth means you can’t have an epidural.
Reality: Lamaze classes provide information about natural pain relief options as well as epidural analgesia. Eliminating pain completely makes it difficult to respond to contractions in ways that facilitate labor and birth. Women who have epidural analgesia are required to have IV fluids and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. They may be encouraged to stay in bed, and may need medications to increase the strength of her contractions. The ability to use many of the comfort techniques learned in Lamaze classes, such as changing positions, walking, and warm baths/showers may be limited. Lamaze education will assist women in making personal decisions that are right for them.
Myth #4: Lamaze doesn’t work.
Reality: Lamaze that “works” has nothing to do with feeling pain, taking or avoiding medication, or developing complications that necessitate medical interventions. Lamaze teaches women that nature has designed birth simply and close to perfectly, and that women already know how to give birth. Lamaze is working if women trust the natural process of birth, have confidence in their ability to give birth, have the freedom to work with their bodies as labor progresses, and are supported by health care providers, family and friends who wait patiently for nature to do its incredible work. Lamaze “works” if birth is allowed to work.
Myth #5: Lamaze is not for everyone.
Reality: Women have always prepared for the birth of their babies. Until recent times, women learned about birth from their own mothers and sisters. Birth took place at home with family rituals and traditions to help them feel confident in their ability to give birth. Women were surrounded by family and wise women who provided comfort and encouragement through labor and in the days and weeks after birth. Today, Lamaze childbirth classes provide the knowledge, skills, and support that help women give birth with confidence and joy as they have done for centuries. Lamaze preparation is for everyone!