The Lamaze exercises derive from a philosophy that emerged in the 50s. It was a technique developed to help prepare mothers for childbirth and reduce the pain.
The technique owes its name to the French obstetrician Ferdinand Lamaze. He affirmed that childbirth is a normal and natural physiological process; women must be prepared in order to approach it with confidence and without fear.
The Lamaze method is also known to be psycho-prophylactic and it’s based on breathing techniques that promote a conscious pain-free delivery.
The objective of the Lamaze exercises is to teach women to control their breathing with relaxation techniques based on tactile stimuli such as massages as well as visual and auditory stimuli.
These exercises are performed to reduce stress and help reduce the perception of pain caused by contractions.
Preparation for Lamaze exercises is conducted during pregnancy. The father also plays an important role. They should help the woman with massages and psychological support. This way they’ll be able to actively participate in the birth of their baby.
In his search to reduce the difficulties during childbirth, the doctor devised a series of exercises which aim to simplify birth, reduce fear and control pain through positive stimuli.
All of the techniques are aimed at making the delivery as natural, healthy and safe as possible.
Everything you need to know about the Lamaze exercises
The Lamaze exercises use several simple learning patterns that you can put into practice from pregnancy until the moment of delivery. Here’s how to do them:
This consists of deep and slow inhalation through the nose and slow exhalations through the mouth. This type of respiration should be used at the beginning and end of each contraction.
This is a useful relaxation technique. Try to breathe naturally and slowly as though you were asleep. Don’t take deep puffs to fill your lungs. Try to breathe a bit more superficially, slightly raise your chest with just a little effort.
This is another slow and shallow breathing technique. In order to perform it you must first be relaxed. Don’t force yourself to go beyond your comfort zone. Start with clean breathing, then gently inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
In order to learn how to perform this technique you can light a candle or hold a piece of paper a few inches from your face. Inhale gently and then gently exhale until the candle light or paper moves.
Mothers are taught this method in the following way: First off they should say “hee, hee” when inhaling and “hoo” while exhaling. The key to this exercise is to maintain a comfortable rhythm with a small, gentle inhalation between each exhalation.
In order to put this technique into practice you should inhale for five seconds and then exhale for five seconds, take two short breaths and then a deep breath. Keep your shoulders relaxed and concentrate on the sounds and your breathing, not the pain.
Although this method aims to achieve a conscious delivery without pain, that doesn’t mean that it’s against the use of epidural anesthesia. If the woman requests an epidural the doctor must administer it.
Is it possible to have a pain-free delivery?
Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about pain-free childbirth. Some experts clarify that as such, it doesn’t exist. However, there are different pain management techniques that can be used during childbirth.
According to Nene Molina who is a prenatal yoga teacher: “There will be pain, it will not go away, but you can learn how to manage it with breathing and relaxation. The Lamaze technique and prenatal yoga promote breathing which will in turn help you manage your pain. In other words, your perception of pain will reduce.”
According to Maria Eugenia Rios, a technical Lamaze instructor, the mother has to be aware that all women are born with the ability to give birth. Maria is dedicated to teaching pregnant women how to breathe and change positions. This helps them face pain when childbirth arrives.
“Making the decision to have a baby is transcendental: It means deciding that from that moment on, your heart will begin to walk outside your body.”
-Elizabeth Stone, Paralympic swimmer-
The Lamaze technique aims to teach women to be aware of their bodies during childbirth. This will allow their respiration to go along with their contractions. This is beneficial for the mother and the baby.
According to Rios: “There are theoretical classes that can be taken in order to prepare for childbirth. They teach women about labor and its different phases. In workshops they explain both to the future mother and her partner about the Lamaze technique. They also teach about breathing and different massages for childbirth.”