What to Expect in Lamaze Class
Some couples opt for hospital lessons taught by a labor-and-delivery nurse who's certified in childbirth education. Yet many others prefer intimate and informal private courses such as Lamaze classes. Indeed, one-fourth of deliveries today are to parents with Lamaze education; that equates to one million births annually.
Keep reading to learn what to expect in Lamaze classes online and in person, and decide whether to enroll yourself.
What is the Lamaze Method?
Lamaze is one of the most popular childbirth preparation methods in America today. It teaches labor and delivery coping mechanisms, provides evidence-based information about pregnancy, and builds confidence for a safe and healthy birth. According to the Lamaze International website, "Our goal is simple: We want you to feel confident, supported and powerful as you ask questions, make decisions, and navigate your path through pregnancy, birth and parenthood."
The Lamaze method often serves as an alternative to medical intervention. That's because it focuses on natural labor coping mechanisms—such as rhythmic breathing exercises—meant to reduce pain. But while Lamaze advocates often support drug-free birth, they understand that medication is sometimes necessary during labor, and they believe parents should weigh the pros and cons of epidurals, drugs, and other interventions.
Lamaze Classes: What Parents Can Expect
Lamaze instructors teach about pregnancy with evidence-based information. They also increase confidence and prepare couples for labor and delivery. Classes emphasize "The Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices," which are six principles that serve as the foundation of the Lamaze method:
1. Let labor begin by itself.
2. Don't stay in one position throughout labor. Instead, you should switch positions and move around.
3. Have a friend, loved one, or doula provide support throughout labor and delivery.
4. Only choose interventions if they're medically necessary.
5. Avoid lying on your back during childbirth. Push when it feels natural for your body.
6. Stay with your baby after birth to promote bonding and breastfeeding.
While enrolled in Lamaze classes, you'll learn about a wide variety of topics, including fetal growth and development, natural pain management skills (such as controlled breathing and massage), what to expect during labor and delivery, medical procedures, breastfeeding, and more. Some Lamaze classes also have a labor rehearsal.
According to the Lamaze Interntaional website, "Lamaze childbirth education provides the knowledge, skills and support to help you give birth with confidence and joy. Knowing that pregnancy and birth can be demanding on your body and mind, Lamaze seeks to help build your confidence and prepare you to navigate the choices and take an active role in having the birth you want." The website adds that you can tell Lamaze is working if you begin trusting the "natural process of birth" while building confidence about labor.
How to Sign Up for Lamaze Classes
Lamaze classes generally run for six to eight weeks, and in-class instruction totals about 12 hours (although some Lamaze series can be completed in a weekend). Most people enroll near the end of pregnancy and bring their partner. These courses are usually smaller than hospital classes, with around eight to 10 couples.
All Lamaze classes are taught by Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators (LCCE). Visit the Lamaze International website to find one in your area. Some educators are also offering virtual sessions; check out this directory to see your options for Lamaze classes online. Costs vary based on region and instructor. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $350