Giving Birth Using the Lamaze Method

Here's an account of one mother's delivery using the Lamaze method of childbirth.


| May/June 1971



Time to Push

The lamaze method of childbirth is about much more than a simple or natural birth.


PHOTO: FOTOLIA/MONKEY BUSINESS

It wasn't until the very moment that our baby daughter was born by natural means that my husband and I changed our concept of the world. At that instant we shed our pragmatic American "history is bunk" attitude and realized—on a gut level—that we, as human beings, have truly evolved from and are related to (both historically and ecologically) the natural world of animals and plants. The realization has changed my perception of the world.

Our daughter, Caitlin, was born by the Lamaze method of prepared childbirth. It's fantastic. Most people think of it as "natural childbirth" (i.e. the mother fully conscious and aware of every physical sensation of the birth process). There is actually far more to the Lamaze method than that, however. Natural childbirth seems to mean (if the term means anything at all) that the mother refuses all drugs, grits her teeth and hangs on. Whether or not the father is there is irrelevant. The point is that the mother can "take it". (To be fair, I suppose the point is also to protect the baby—still in utero—from strong pain killing and sedative drugs.)

The Lamaze Method

The idea behind the Lamaze method, on the other hand, is that the parents—together—work with the mother's natural labor to deliver the baby. Through lots of practice, the mother reconditions herself so that—instead of tensing and screaming when a contraction comes—she begins a rhythmic pant-breathing. As she does this the father times the contractions, steadies her performance and offers general moral support. The Lamaze people contend that the method makes labor both bearable and easier because the mother is working with, and not against, her own body. Some devotees even insist that it makes labor totally painless but I think that's going too far.

I was originally attracted to the Lamaze method by the stress which it places on the father to be with and coach the mother during pregnancy, labor and delivery. The father is just as much a creator of his child as the mother. Why should she experience the profound event of childbirth alone?

When we discovered that I was pregnant we were overwhelmed. It wasn't that we didn't want a baby . . . it was just that a baby had no place in our current frame of reference. So—hard as it is for us to believe now—we could only think about the birth abstractly. We thought it would be neat (cool, in, etc.) to have the baby naturally and together. We didn't realize what an incredible experience it would be.

I asked my doctor about the idea and he told me there was an organization of "natural childbirth" people—doctors mostly, and lots of convinced parents—called The American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, 36 West 96th St., New York, N.Y. 10025. I doubt that you've heard of it and I certainly wouldn't have if my doctor hadn't told me. About that time, we moved and—doctor-wise—were left high and dry. Also about that time—the fifth month—the baby started squirming inside me and quickly motivated me to call the local branch of the Psychoprophylactic Society. The folks there gave me a list of doctors who did Lamaze and a list of hospitals that gave a Lamaze course and allowed the baby's father into both the labor and delivery rooms.





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