In the 1970’s, savvy expectant moms prepared for the birth of their babies by attending “Childbirth Classes.” These classes were usually offered by area hospitals to pregnant women in their last trimester of pregnancy and taught by experienced OB and maternity nursing staff. Countless women waddled into community centers with their pillows and partners in tow to learn what to expect during the hospital delivery of their child.
Today, there are many more options for a women to explore as she writes her birth plan and prepares for pregnancy, labor and delivery. Below are brief descriptions of four popular birth preparation techniques.
1) LAMAZE TECHNIQUE
Of the techniques listed here, this is probably the oldest and most widely used. Those previously mentioned 1970’s moms used many Lamaze principles when attending their classes. Overall, Lamaze assists mothers in approaching birth as a completely natural and healthy process. The normal processes of pregnancy, labor and delivery are explained, allowing mothers to gain information and understanding of what is happening to them and their bodies. Knowledge can eliminate fear that often leads to unnecessary stress and resulting pain. Many people refer to Lamaze as “natural” childbirth. In actuality, Lamaze does not discourage use of drugs or medical intervention during labor and delivery. Rather, it encourages mothers to become aware of all options in order to make informed decisions.
In general, Lamaze instruction includes at least 12 hours of class instruction covering:
- Information on normal labor, delivery and early postpartum care
- Discussion on healthy lifestyle choices
- Effective breathing techniques for labor
- Various positions for labor and delivery
- Using focal points to relax
- Massage options to alleviate pain
- Support for the mother during labor
- Communication skills for mother and coach to use
- Common medical procedures
2) BRADLEY METHOD
This birth method is also known as “partner coached” birth. A main focus of this method is preparing a mother to deliver her baby without pain medication. It also prepares the mother’s partner to be her birth coach. Unexpected developments, like an emergency Cesarean section, are also discussed. A quick overview of a 12-session Bradley method class includes:
- Nutrition and exercise
- Rehearsals for actual labor
- Guidance for the coach on how to effectively support and advocate for the mother
- Relaxation techniques for pain management during labor
- Breastfeeding and care post-birth
3) ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
This technique is more adequately described as an educational process to improve freedom of movement, balance, flexibility and coordination. Rather than being limited to the final trimester of pregnancy, the Alexander technique is ideally suited to weekly lessons throughout pregnancy by focusing on physical and psychological changes that women experience. This technique also explains useful resources that can be used during future stages of parenthood involving a child’s healthy progression through its development. It is expected that this technique will:
- Improve comfort during pregnancy
- Increase the effectiveness of pushing during delivery
- Aid in recovering from birth
- Ease problems in breastfeeding
This childbirth preparation is also sometimes called the Mongan Method. This series of 4-5 classes is a natural childbirth education alternative that promotes self-hypnosis techniques. Self-hypnosis is effective in removing fear and tension during labor resulting in a calm, serene birth experience. Additionally, this method also focuses on pregnancy as well as explaining “pre-birth parenting” and the consciousness of a baby prior to birth.
While childbirth preparation education methods and techniques may vary from each other, they share many commonalities. Most importantly, they:
- Increase an expectant mother’s confidence in her body’s ability to carry and birth an infant
- Offer an opportunity to create a bonding experience with your partner
- Share concerns and insights with your partner, instructors and other expectant parents
Most importantly of all, they become an initial and crucial part of a child and family’s life journey.
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