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An Introduction to Lamaze Breathing

If you’re expecting a baby, you’ve probably considered learning Lamaze breathing. Lamaze is a pain management technique that’s traditionally used by women who want to have a natural childbirth experience. If this is something you’re interested in, try to practice the techniques throughout your pregnancy so that when the time comes to start labor and delivery, you’ll be ready to use them to ease the pain and focus your thoughts during natural childbirth.

The History of Lamaze Breathing

A French obstetrician, Dr. Fernand Lamaze, introduced this method in 1951, and by 1958, Lamaze classes had reached the United States. These classes were heralded as innovative, as they taught both the required breathing and relaxation techniques, but also included a role for the husband and a nurse. In 1960, Marjorie Karmel and Elisabeth Bing significantly advanced the practice of Lamaze breathing by forming a corporation that’s now known as Lamaze International. Lamaze caught on quickly throughout the country and is now the number one class taken by pregnant women.


Breathing Exercises

The breathing exercises featured in Lamaze include several different types of breathing patterns:

  • First, the baseline breathing will show you how to calculate your normal breathing rate for one minute.
  • Next, the slow breathing exercises will have you exhale to a count of five and inhale the same slow way.
  • The blowing exercise will teach you how to inhaling through your nose and exhale by blowing the air forcefully out of your mouth.
  • The patterned breathing is what most people commonly associate with Lamaze – the “he, he, hoo” breathing technique. This is done by exhaling with two very short breaths and then releasing the rest of the air through your mouth.
  • Finally, the cleaning breath exercise has you take a big, deep breath through your nose and exhale it slowly through your mouth.

Each of these breathing exercises are used at different stages of childbirth, and they can be altered to help accommodate the mother’s needs. If you feel more comfortable breathing a certain way through the pain than what was taught in class, this is perfectly acceptable. The goal is to find a breathing pattern that works for you and will help you to focus your efforts while minimizing pain and discomfort during delivery.

Why Does Lamaze Work?

Many experts feel that Lamaze works so well because the relaxation and breathing techniques will help a woman in labor stay focused, comfortable, and in control of the delivery process. It also helps women to overcome the fears that are often associated with childbirth. Many women who practice Lamaze breathing during their deliveries are able to avoid pain medication – and the side effects that come with it – altogether.

Lamaze Classes

Lamaze classes usually last around six weeks and cover a lot of different topics throughout the course. Obviously, you’ll learn the Lamaze breathing technique, but you may also be taught massage techniques, childbirth positions, and about the labor and delivery process. If you’re interested in learning more about Lamaze breathing, talk to your doctor – you can often find these classes through your doctor’s office or even at your local community college.

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