The Lamaze Technique, also known as the Psychoprophylactic Method, was developed by the obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze. The technique is based on his observations of childbirth practices in the former Soviet Union that involved breathing and relaxation techniques under the supervision of a midwife.
As a natural childbirth technique, the goal of the Lamaze Technique is to prepare a mother for childbirth by giving her confidence in her ability to give birth, and teaching her how to cope with pain in order to have a comfortable labor process. The technique also includes movement exercises, positioning techniques, and massage.
The Lamaze breathing technique consists of slow, deep breathing, without specific patterns. The idea is that the right way to breathe is whatever feels right. Things like the number of breaths per minute, breathing through the nose or mouth, or making sounds with one’s breath are only important if they make a difference for the woman involved.
Additionally — as an overall goal — the Lamaze Technique aims at ensuring that all parents feel supported and make confident and informed decisions in order to have a clear path through pregnancy, to have safe and healthy births, and a successful parenthood.
In any case, the core Lamaze beliefs around childbirth — presented as the Six Healthy Birth Practices — are as follows:
- Let labor begin on its own.
- Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor.
- Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support.
- Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
- Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.
- Keep mother and baby together — it’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding.
Lamaze classes for pregnant women are offered at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and at homes, among other locations. Classes typically last around eight weeks.
You can learn more about the Lamaze Technique on the website of Lamaze International.