Recently, I met a mom in a bar with her baby. Yep. A baby-in-a-bar. Eh, why not?
Anyway, she and I got to talking and I told her what I did for a living. She then said something that made me take pause.
She said that she’d taken the hospital’s Lamaze class, but “it didn’t work because she had a c-section anyway.” She then went on to say that she felt the method had failed her as she should have been able to give birth naturally.
I’d have pressed her for additional information, but the baby needed to get to bed and they were heading home. Even babies who hang out in bars need to sleep.
Since that conversation, I’ve been digesting what this mother had told me. I think she went into her hospital Lamaze class with some erroneous assumptions that were not corrected by the instructor or the curriculum presented. This mother thought that if she did the method “right” she’d have a natural birth.
Her biggest assumption is that Lamaze is a method, a prescriptive list of do’s and don’ts that will result in a specific outcome.
The problem is that Lamaze isn’t a method anymore. We haven’t been a method for years and years, yet that idea of what we do in a Lamaze class still persists. It’s this societal idea that we teach patterned breathing (hee hee, hoo hoo), which, really, most of us don’t any more. Lamaze’s history goes far back before 1960 when we were officially founded. This cultural perception of Lamaze being a method involving breath control (and social control) is based in history, but not reflective of present day classes or teachings. A while back, I wrote a bit about historical Lamaze. If you would like further detail, please do read it.
I don’t teach the patterned breathing techniques in my Confident Birthing class. I do teach breath awareness and what breath looks like when it follows the normal rhythm of a contraction. I teach breath for relaxation and breath for working. I teach breath as sound. I teach breath as it relates to the pelvic floor. Predominantly, I teach women how to tune in to their own breath. I teach partners how to modify her breathing, if necessary, with touch.
It’s the idea that classes are for only married or partnered, straight couples. Classes are open to single, pregnant moms, LGBTQ families, poly families, people of all races and religions, and and any other people or family structure I may have missed in that short list.
It’s the idea that Lamaze is only for women who are seeking a natural (physiologically normal, unmedicated, zero intervention) birth. Our classes are for every mother whether she wants an epidural, needs to be induced, has a c-section or any other number of medical interventions she wants or needs. Lamaze is for all pregnant people.
Lamaze respects your need or preference for an epidural or other pain medication. It’s your body and your birth. You need to birth in the best way for you. Not for me, not for the books on my shelf, not for any other person out there on social media, not for any person IRL. Your birth and your needs are yours. Lamaze supports you in your choices.
It’s the idea that if a mother follows a prescriptive way of doing things, she’ll end up with a certain outcome, i.e. natural birth. That’s a fallacy, and a big one. There are too many variables for anyone to predict how a birth will go. No doctor, midwife, nurse, doula or childbirth educator on earth can tell a mother how her birth will go.
Any flavor of childbirth educator that tells you if you do X then you will get Y result is selling you something. Remember, it’s not the method, it’s the mother. It’s about claiming and utilizing your own agency during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum. It’s not about the medical interventions, really at all.
Lamaze is about learning how to effectively communicate with your doctor or midwife. It’s about making informed choices about your body and your baby. Empowerment comes from within, but it only comes with the information and the tools for success. Lamaze provides the tools, it’s up to you to use them.
Dear reader, what other assumptions do you have about Lamaze? What questions can I answer for you? Tell me in the comments below.
Similar topics on which I have mused:
- Attachment to your Ideal Birth
- Perfection vs. Purpose OR the Birth Experience vs. Giving Birth
- The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
- It’s not the Method, It’s the Mother
- Book Review: “Lamaze: An International History” – Breath Control: The Rise and Decline of Psychoprophylaxis