Friday, December 4, 2009

Lamaze vs. Bradley or Hypnobirthing

I just thought I’d take a moment to pretend that I’m an expert on Lamaze and take a few hits at it. But seriously, though I don’t know very much about the Lamaze method of unmedicated childbirth, I still have negative feelings about it. First of all, I have known a few women who attempted to go unmedicated using the Lamaze method, but none were drug free. The success rate for unmedicated birth with the Lamaze method is extremely low. Secondly, it’s easy for a Lamaze mother to hyperventilate during labor, especially when she uses higher paced breathing. This is dangerous to both mother and baby as well as painful. The more oxygen a mom gets, the less pain she feels. The inverse of this is true. And since Mom is the means for Baby to get oxygen, when she has a shortage, Baby suffers.

Despite this, when most people think of unmedicated childbirth, they think of Lamaze with the rhythmic huffing and puffing. Bill Cosby made the rhythmic breathing legendary in his amazing skit on the birth of his first baby. Most movies where a woman is attempting to go natural feature Lamaze breathing. This is probably owing to the fact that Lamaze is an older method than the other methods. Still, I’d love to see a movie where the actress is having a Bradley or Hypno birth. Seeing a woman in the calm, resting state that comes with these methods might open some doors for curious man and women everywhere, and it might make unmedicated childbirth more popular and attainable to more women.

So what’s the difference? Well, here’s Babycenter’s description of the Lamaze method. Here’s the Lamaze website. I don’t know how much the breathing has or has not changed, but one thing seems to remain the same – Lamaze education is less gung-ho about the need to go un-medicated. (This might have something to do with the method not being very effective for avoiding medication).

Bradley and Hypno birthing (which are mainly the same, though Hypnobirth training is more technique focused and Bradley training is more about overall childbirth and pregnancy education) is focused on deep, deep relaxation to minimize pain. So where Lamaze is geared toward distraction from the pain, the others are geared toward minimizing or eliminating the pain by minimizing tension. Also, Bradley and Hypnobirthing take the no-medication thing pretty seriously, which I appreciate. If I’m determined to gain the medical benefits for my baby and myself of unmedicated and low-intervention childbirth, I want a method that is serious about helping me not want medication. It may sound more extreme, but a program that makes light of medication in labor has little right to claim that it’s a true advocate for unmedicated labor.

So let’s keep our fingers crossed that someday a big Hollywood film will feature a woman having a good Hypnobirth. Somehow I think that might make an impression on America. In the meantime, if you’re considering natural childbirth, think Mongan or Bradley, not Lamaze (no offense, Dr. L).

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