It's Not Your Mother's Lamaze!

Popular since the 1970s, Lamaze is continually evolving to meet the needs of today’s modern moms-to-be.

Visit Lamaze International's official Web site for more details.

Lamaze originated in
Russia and then became popular in France before it was introduced in the United States in the 1960s. Designed to educate and prepare expectant mothers to help them conquer fear and tension, its popularity grew in tandem with the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. Teaching specific breathing techniques to prepare for and control pain, Lamaze appealed to a generation of women who had been challenged to take control of their bodies.

As women changed over the last four decades, so has Lamaze.

“We don’t call it ‘natural’ or ‘prepared’ any more,” says Barbara Hotelling, president of Lamaze International, “but rather ‘normal’ childbirth.” The term “normal” implies, for example, that labor starts on its own and interventions, such as the artificial rupture of the membrane, are not routinely administered.

Today’s Lamaze classes, Hotelling says, are more interactive than they used to be and instructors use a greater variety of teaching strategies. Breathing techniques, like the much-disparaged “dog panting,” are de-emphasized and replaced with labor-support techniques, such as massage and aromatherapy. Above all, Lamaze today is focused on helping women become fully informed and confident about childbirth.