What happened to Lamaze? Catching up with the group that made breathing famous

Women interested in natural childbirth have more methods than ever before to choose from, including HypnoBirthing, the Bradley Method, and others. But with the rising popularity of these approaches to birth, whatever happened to Lamaze, the group that taught women breathing techniques for labor?

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"Many people are under the impression that Lamaze disappeared, but actually Lamaze has shifted its approach," says Jada Shapiro, a certified Lamaze childbirth instructor in New York City and co-founder of Birth Day Presence. "Lamaze is no longer a childbirth method, as much as a philosophy that provides a foundation and direction for women as they prepare to give birth and become mothers. Lamaze is at the forefront of the evidence-based care movement. Its mission is to promote, support and protect natural, safe, and healthy birth through education and advocacy."

In other words, Lamaze has changed with the times. Taught internationally, its scope goes far beyond the well-known breathing technique. Non-profit organization Lamaze International promotes a natural, healthy, and safe approach to childbirth, and also for pregnancy and even early parenting. Lamaze gives women access to the most recent medical research and aims to reduce unnecessary medical interventions and helps women choose their birth plan.

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In fact, one of the top priorities of Lamaze is to un-teach women everything they've learned from the media about birth. "It's debunking what's become these cultural myths," says Debra Bingham, president-elect of Lamaze International.

One of those myths is the notion that birth must happen in a hospital bed, lying on your back, strapped to a monitor. With Lamaze (and other natural childbirth approaches) women are taught that they know their bodies best, and that lying down is not, in fact, the most efficient way to give birth to their child. By paying attention to the signals from their body and their baby, women instinctively know the best way to give birth.

Lamaze classes teach six basic practices: 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; keep mother and baby together because it's best for mother, baby and breastfeeding.

In addition to evolving with scientific research, Lamaze has stayed current with communication. The organization is active on Twitter, sends out weekly pregnancy emails, posts educational videos on YouTube, and more. Their presence is as big as ever-but it's not your mother's Lamaze.

Read more on pregnancy and labor here:
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• Baby bling and push gifts! How partners can show appreciation for labor pains
• Share your natural childbirth story


For more information about Lamaze or to find a Lamaze class in your area go to www.lamaze.org.

By Kate Silver for Parents.com