By Jeanne Mendelson
With all of the new experiences that pregnancy brings, it’s normal to have questions about pregnancy, labor, birth, and early parenting. Building confidence is an important step toward welcoming your baby into the world, and an evidence-based childbirth class can help prepare you for the transformative journey from pregnancy to parenthood.
What is a Lamaze childbirth class? If you’re thinking breathing, think again.
When you leave a Lamaze childbirth class, you will have confidence in your ability to navigate all stages of pregnancy, labor and postpartum—from big decisions like choosing your birth team to ongoing choices to stay healthy. And from learning how to respond to your body during labor or to your baby’s needs in the first months, a certified Lamaze educator presents your options and helps you decide what’s best for you.
You and your support partner will work together to create a birth plan that outlines your preferences. This is an important time to learn about options and consider what is important to you.
A big part of your birth plan will likely be how you will cope with pain. You and your partner
will learn and practice a variety of relaxation and coping techniques. Your support partner will learn how to time contractions, understand when active labor has begun, and get hands-on practice with comfort measures.
You’ll learn how to communicate with your health care provider and understand your choices for when things don’t go as planned. Labor is not the time to learn about medication or a procedure for the first time. The goal of a Lamaze class is simple: You should feel confident asking questions, making informed decisions and comfortably taking control of your journey.
Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices
The foundation of every Lamaze class is the Six Healthy Birth Practices. While no one can promise you what kind of birth experience you will have, common sense tells us and research confirms that these six practices are tried-and-true ways to make birth as safe and healthy as possible.
Your Decisions on What’s Best for You and Your Baby
Lamaze supports you with science-backed pregnancy, birth and parenting information taught by certified childbirth educators, in-person (recommended) or online. A Lamaze educator is here to:
• Guide you as you navigate all of your options, and their benefits and risks.
• Help you understand how your body was designed for birth, and encourage you to work with your body’s natural abilities.
• Provide strategies for comfort and coping with pain during labor, reduce unnecessary medical interventions, and receive continuous support during labor and birth.
• Encourage bonding between you and your baby, with the importance of skin-to-skin contact and time to get to know your new baby after birth.
Once you decide on your preferences for labor and birth, it’s time to form your birth team and write your birth plan.
Your Birth Team
The people who are with you during labor and birth can make the process easier or more difficult, depending on how well they care for you. With the help of a Lamaze educator, decide on your birth preferences and then choose your
care provider, labor support companions, and birth setting carefully with them in mind. Share your preferences with your birth team well before labor starts so there is time, if necessary, to arrange a labor support team who will fully support your desires.
Your Birth Plan
There’s no right or wrong for creating a birth plan, but there are some things to consider that will help you get the most out of the process.
• Work with Your Birth Team: While how you give birth is ultimately up to you, getting support and advice from your family, doula, and midwife or care provider will help make you more confident when it comes time to put the plan into action.
• Do Your Research: Once you’ve researched and considered your many labor and birth choices, it’s time to write it all down. Be sure that you’re making informed, evidence-based decisions, and remember the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices.
• Keep It Simple: Keep your wishes brief and
clear, and only include necessary details, like your preferences for labor, birth, emergency situations, and post-birth care.
• Discuss Your Wishes with Your Care Provider: Bring your birth plan to your next prenatal
appointment and discuss how you envision
your birth with your health care provider.
• Be Flexible: While you can’t guarantee how things will unfold, you can make informed requests for you and your baby.
• Get started: Download and customize your birth plan: Lamaze.org/Birth-Plan
Find a Lamaze Class
A Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) is your trusted partner for one of the most important journeys of your life. Find a Lamaze class near you or explore your online class options: Lamaze.org/Birthing-Classes
Working closely with their families, health care providers and Lamaze educators, millions of parents have achieved their desired childbirth outcomes using the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices. At Lamaze, we strive to prepare you to make informed decisions and we firmly believe that everyone benefits from an informed pregnancy and birth.
Jeanne Mendelson is the Chief Operations Officer for Lamaze.