First Time Pregnancy
The 411 on Lamaze

621-00790639
The Lamaze Method is based on the philosophy that birth is a normal, natural, and healthy experience which can be shared by both the mother and father, and which women can be empowered to confidently embrace through education and continuous support. The main goal of Lamaze is to encourage and teach the mother to find strength, comfort, and constructive responses to labor pain and stress through various relaxation techniques.

The use of breathing techniques is one of the major hallmarks of the Lamaze method. Not only do they enhance relaxation and decrease heart rate, they also ease the perception of pain in preparation for childbirth. Easy to learn and apply, Lamaze breathing works on both body and mind. Cognitively, the mother is taught to focus on breathing so that awareness of discomfort and pain are pushed aside. Physiologically, the rhythmic act of breathing keeps mother and baby well oxygenated through labor, improving circulation and helping uterine muscles contract more powerfully and efficiently.

Far from the stereotypical “hee-hee-hoo-hoo,” Lamaze has a comprehensive approach to giving birth. Various ways to utilize breathing is learned along with simple coping strategies and a variety of comforting movements that can aid in labor and birth. There is no specifically “right” way or time to do the breathing techniques although counting the number of breaths per minute, through the nose or mouth, or making sounds, can also help the mother. Visualization, focusing on an object, counting, staring at hubby or a spot on the wall are helpful too.

Kinds of breathing techniques
Conscious patterned breathing helps many women stay relaxed and on top of their contractions by focusing on counting and their breaths.

  • Cleansing breath at the beginning and end of each contraction sounds like a good, deep sigh. The opening cleansing breath releases tension and communicates that you are at starting to work through a contraction. The closing cleansing breath helps release any accumulated tension, enabling the mother to completely relax in between contractions.
  • Basic breathing consists of slow, easy, relaxed breaths. Focus on breathing through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Slow, deep breathing helps most mothers manage the painful contractions.
  • Faster and shallower breathing usually helps as labor progresses and contractions intensify. The body will naturally follow the developing rhythm of rise and fall by shortening the in and out breaths as contractions peak, and lengthening breaths as it subsides.
  • Intense, painful contractions can also be managed via even, controlled breathing: in through parted lips with a little gasping “hee” sound, then out with a little gasping “hoo”.

Switching from one technique to the next really depends on what works at the moment to make you feel better. You can change from deep and slow to shallow and fast according to how you feel. At a certain point, you may already hit your labor groove: breathing, moving, going through it without thinking too much, and just intuitively responding to your body. However, it’s important to keep breaths even to avoid hyperventilation, which happens if you breathe out more than you breathe in.

The benefits of Lamaze breathing and the various accompanying skills you can learn really go way beyond the birthing experience. It can also be applied throughout life in times of stress.

The Lamaze Method supports six healthy birth practices:

  1. Let labor start on its own.
  2. A woman in labor should be able to freely move around, walk, and change positions.
  3. Continuous support from others should be available during labor.
  4. Routine medical intervention is not necessary during labor and birth.
  5. Giving birth on a woman’s back should not be done; birth should follow the body’s urges to push.
  6. Mothers and babies should always be together and should have unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding.

Photo credits: http://www.masterfile.com/stock-photography/image/621-00790639/Pregnant-Couple-Doing-Lamaze


Philippine Association for Childbirth Education

Imagine Nation Photography


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