Who is this Lamaze guy and why do I want to slap him silly?

Yes, I know…He’s probably dead so I can’t slap him damnit. Why did he have to butt his big fat nose into everything anyway?? Women were more than happy to be put to sleep while they had their babies. Then Monsieur Lamaze decides that if women had something to do while they were in labor to distract them from the pain ("I know! Some ridiculous breathing techniques! That’ll do it!!) then they wouldn’t have to be put to sleep yadda yadda…

I am only complaining here half seriously…I know a natural birth is probably safer and much better for the baby, but I tell ya, my Lamaze class is freaking me out. My instructor seems to feel that Lamaze alone won’t really get most women through labor, but hopefully it will get them to the point where they will be able to receive some form of pain relief. Maybe it’s just my instructor’s attitude that is horrifying me. She keeps talking about how much pain we’re going to be in. She keeps saying things like, “Well, that’s nothing compared to the agony you’re going to feel!” as she laughs flippantly and we all turn white as sheets.

It’s entirely possible that I’m just hormonal. I’m due soon and feel a bit restless and unsettled about everything, but I guess I was hoping to have more faith in the Lamaze method…but maybe that was unrealistic.

Can any Doper moms tell me how fabulous Lamaze was for them when they gave birth? Does it really help or should I scream Epidural when I walk through the door and be done with it?

Not a Doper mom, but a first-time Doper dad with a six-month-old baby: unless you have something to prove, go with the epidural. Seriously. If not for yourself, then at least for the people with you in the delivery room. They’re under enough stress already - do they really have to watch you screaming in pain?

At last, Lamaze instructors are getting real.

The ones that taught this back in '79 were apparently not allowed to use the word “pain.” You didn’t have labor pains, you had contractions. You didn’t feel pain, you felt “pressure” or “discomfort.” In fact, if you were doing it right, you didn’t feel even discomfort! French women had orgasms while giving birth it was so pleasant! If you needed drugs you were not only a failure but inflicting some kind of damage on your poor innocent unborn child. (Innocent? The kid who broke my tailbone on the way out?)

This disregarded a century of obstetrical anesthesia drugs which the human race apparently had survived quite nicely.

I really think you are better off expecting agony, because the methods of '79 made everybody feel a bit inadequate, feeling pain as we all did (we had a reunion once all the kiddos were out, and everybody agreed–it hurt).

Go for the epidural. Especially if anyone suggests Pitocin–in that case get the epidural first.

It’s the same way they get you to break boards and do crazy feats of strength and endurance in the “mystic arts”. It’s a psyche out…that way you’ll be prepared.

Best wishes and congratulations on your baby!


To expand on what Hilarity N. Suze said, even as late as 1988, they weren’t saying the word “pain.” It was still just ‘discomfort’ and ‘pressure.’ They made it out to seem like labor was going to be nothing more than mild to moderate cramps and maybe a little backache.
Yeah, right. :rolleyes: Let me tell you about ‘discomfort’ and ‘pressure,’ sweetheart. Labor hurts.
When my daughter was born 17 years ago, I was in extreme ‘discomfort’ and was experiencing massive ‘pressure.’
I’d also been fed that whole guilt-trip about how’d I’d be a failure as a woman and be harming my baby if I had any drugs. By the time I worked through that and decided I wanted an epidural, I was told it was too late.
Jeez, I hope I haven’t scared you too much.
Congratulations on the new baby! When are you due?

Bear in mind also that an epidural is nothing like the old drugs they used to give women in labor - it’s a controlled drip of anaesthetic directly into the spinal cord, numbing you from the waist down. It souds icky (especially if you don’t like needles), but it means than virtually no drugs actully enter your bloodstream, posing danger to your brain or to your child’s health. It also means that if (God forbid) you need an emergency C-section, there’s no need to waste time on prep - all they have to do is up the dosage.

In short, put your trust in modern medicine. It ain’t perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.

Our Lamaze teacher was like this too. She would say over and over again that while it was certainly possible to learn the Lamaze techniques well enough to not need pain medication during child birth, she honestly didn’t think any of the people in my group would, so the focus of the class was to give us the tools “just in case.” As a result, I simply could not take it seriously, since I knew that painless “bliss” was just around the corner whenever I couldn’t handle things myself.

As a result, I really was not prepared when I went into labor with my first child. I can’t say that the pain was worse than I expected, because it was simply nothing like anything I expected. I did deal with it as long as I could, then asked for an epidural. As soon as I got the epidural, labor stopped, completely. By the time the contractions started again a few hours later, the epidural was wearing off, and the doctor didn’t want me to have a second one. I was too worn out and in too much discomfort to push very hard at this point, but I was able to get the baby far enough down that the doctor could pull it out with forceps.

With the second child, I decided that Lamaze was NOT the way to go. I found out about the Bradley Method, which is a lot more realistic about how well mothers can handle pain, and the training is supposed to start a lot earlier in the pregnancy. There were no local Bradley trainers where we lived, so my husband and I taught ourselves the steps.

When I went to the hospital to give birth the second time, I was MUCH better prepared, and had much better “tools” to use in handling the pain. When the anesthesiologist appeared in my room to give me an epidural, I refused. She even came back in about an hour later to tell me that she was leaving the hospital, and this was my last chance. I still refused. As a result, I gave birth with no pain medication at all. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but the labor and delivery were much easier and faster, as was my recovery afterwards.

If I were to do it again, I would use Bradley again with no qualms whatsoever. I have also found that the techniques used to control labor pain are good for almost any other pain, too, and I use them as necessary to manage other pain.

I think the big difference between Lamaze and Bradley is that Bradley outright admits that there is pain, and the techniques are meant to teach you how to cope with the very real pain of labor and delivery. In fact, there is a strong component of learning to use the pain to make labor and delivery more efficient. Lamaze techniques are designed to teach you to ignore the pain, rather than admit to the pain, without as much emphasis on how to use your body to help the delivery process.

The Bradley Method also gives the partner (usually the father) a much larger role in helping the mother manage what’s going on. He is much less a “coach” who is simply reminding the mother of what she learned in the lessons, and more a partner who has learned all of the techniques himself, as well how to handle problems that might arise before, during, and even after delivery.

Yes, women have been using anesthesia for labor for decades, but women have been giving birth without anesthesia for millenia.

I did not take any Lamaze classes with either of the Ivykids.

With Ivyboy I got a Demerol drip and no epidural. With Ivygirl, they waited until I was 4 cm before they gave me the epidural, but I delivered so fast it didn’t have a chance to take effect.

Maybe it is the endorphins, but I don’t remember a lot of pain. I remember being extremely uncomfortable, but no knife-cutting pain.

Lamaze is an excellent coping mechanism for the pain, but any rational woman
( ok, there are no rational pregnant women.) should know and expect that labor hurts.
What is it like? For every woman it is different and the interpration of pain varies.

Cool Things that if you are alert enough

Ask to see the umbilical cord after it is cut. It is so freaking fascinating and to see the (insert medical term that I cannot remember now) blood cells (?) in the cord. They look like white grapes. If there are three ( and there should be) all is perfect. (less than that is …uhhhh…downs or something.) but it was freakingly cool to see that. Makes me wish I could freeze it or something to take out for Mommy Show and Tell.

Take a picture of the placenta. Your child in years to come will be fascinated by it.

Save the day’s newspaper for your child to have when they are older.

The best part after delivery ( and the baby is bundled off for the standard testing in Incubator World) is when they put a warm blanket over your body. It is awesome. I wants one of those every night.

Bring your own little snack. You will be starving and though a meal will be delivered to you, it will seem like forever. Some crackers or similar will help until the pathetic sandwich is delivered.

Take your own pillow.

Jeebus, what a bunch of scaredy-cats!

Most women don’t need an epidural.

Women who are scared and tense because of horror stories told to them by well-meaning strangers and stupid Lamaze teachers may need an epidural.

Think about how much more any pain hurts when you’re tense - a headache or backache. Get yourself in a stress-free mindset, and you’ll forget all about that headache until some dope asks you if you still need that asprin. Then suddenly you remember you’re in pain and it hurts worse again.

If you need an epidural, sure, get one guilt free. But why anyone would PLAN an epidural is beyond me. It’s not like you don’t have hours (until 4or 5 cm) to make your decision once you find out what labor’s like for yourself.

I second Bradley as a far superior method, both in theory and in practice. I think their teacher trainings are far superior, as well. They’re more flexible and will help each woman or couple to develop their own birth plan and make informed choices.

Oversimplified, Lamaze is about shifting your consciousness slightly OUT of your body - to that focal point on the wall over there. Unless you’re really good at meditation or self-hypnosis, that’s really hard when there’s so much going on inside your body clamoring for attention. Bradley teaches us how to go further INTO our bodies in a state of calm and trust. All those distracting (in Lamaze) sensations become the basis for and strengthener of your self-hypnotic state. Much easier, in my experience.

Regardless of which methods you use - chemical, Lamaze or Bradley - your teacher is a complete and total idiot. There’s a world of difference between being honest that pain is a possibility (it is NOT inevitable and women DO orgasm during labor!) and scaring the wits out of you when in fact fear makes the pain MUCH worse.

WhyNot: one drug free (with orgasm and then back labor with retained placenta and manual extraction) and one emergency C-section.

Our instructor didn’t call it Lamaze; she called it “prepared childbirth.”

We weren’t prepared.

One of the first things the nurse told us when we walked into the delivery wing was that labor pain is the standard against which all other pain is measured. We hadn’t heard that… my wife got an epidural both times.

By the way, I should add that the pain of unmedicated labor is NOTHING compared to the pain of a severe ear infection with a burst eardrum. Give me the choice of having a baby without meds and an ear infection or a severe migraine, and I would take the baby hands-down.

Whatever you might have heard about labor and delivery pain, there ARE much worse things out there, and you’ve probably already felt at least one of them. A huge advantage to labor, though, is that you know it is not likely to last for more than a few hours (longer labors are the exception, not the rule), and that when it’s over, so is the pain. (Okay, there are post-delivery pains, too, but epidurals won’t help with that.)

I will state right now I have never had a baby.
However, I’ve seen a fair few delivieries.

It will hurt and it will be exhausting, and really the best thing you can do is to just go with it.

But, if you decide that it is becoming too much, tell someone right then and there. Do not wait until you can’t take any more, because it will take time to get the anaesthetist, it will take time to site the epidual and it wil take time for it to kick in.

If you wait too long either you’ll be too far dilated to have it at all, or you will be so exhausted that it won’t help you as much as it should. You need to be strong and tough it out…but only up to a point. Listen to your body and if it tells you that you won’t be able to handle much more, take the pain relief.

There is one, very compeling, reason to go with an epidural from the start, and that is if your obstetrician is not confident that you will be able to deliver vaginally. If difficult choices have to be made or an emergency c-section or operative vaginal delivery has to be performed, it’s much easier if the mother is clear-minded, coherent and already anaesthetised.

If your OB is making “hmm” noises about your ability to deliver, but is letting you go ahead with a natural labour, just to see if it works, have an epidural.

Well, on that scale, I consider passing a kidney stone much worse than labor. The nurse shouldn’t have scared you like that. There is much worse than labor.

I screamed epidural when I walked through the door. I had no problems with an epidural, really didn’t want the pain. Due to having a OB nurse who must have frequented S&M bars in her spare time, I didn’t get the epidural when I asked. I did get it after shift change, when the new nurse said “we’ll I’ll check you…gee, 8, ten…I can call this whatever I want, we are calling it eight and getting the antheistist up here.” This means I functionally only had the epidural for transition and pushing - and you know what, I could have done it. Particuarly had the first OB nurse been interested in helping me through my contractions rather than critizing my lack of technique after my contractions (she talked me through two, it really helps to have a good labor coach - hire a doula if you think you want unmedicated).

I’ll third the Bradley method; I worked with my wife through the whole process. The first birth was 100% natural using the Bradley method in an ABC room at the Hospital. All natural and emergency care was available. Went very well by all accounts. We all went home the following day. My MIL expressed disgust that such options were not available for her back in the day.
Second birth, we were talked into the epidural and it was not a pleasant experience for my wife, I had to really argue for the rest of my wife’s wishes and her recovery was a lot slower and more painful. Spent 2 days in hospital and was in pain much longer but couldn’t take pain meds as Breast-feeding.

Friends who did both saw no real benefit to Lamaze but loved Bradley method.

To answer the question in the title, it’s Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze you women have to thank for all this fun. But don’t blame France; while Lamaze himself was French, he based his methods on childbirth practices developed in the Soviet Union during the 1940’s. Which I guess means that the Lamaze Method was the childbirth program that got the Joseph Stalin seal of approval.

Do you have bad menstrual cramps? Because I did not find labor any worse than af. I did not take a class of any kind and went through labor without an epidural. Of course my labor was only four hours long so that helped a lot.

YMMV of course. If you need an epidural get one and don’t feel guilty about it.

There are other countries that to this day do not usually give medication to women in labor. The notion that women who are otherwise healthy in the middle of routine labor should be medicated is our cultural reference point - but it’s not necessarily the universal norm even today.

When I was pregnant with my third, I followed a small paperback about visualization through labor. It helped a great deal. I can’t find it through searching as I’ve forgotten the authors’ names and the title. I fixed on an image of a rosebud unfolding and thought of that when contrations hit. {Then, when it was clear that things were going VERY fast, I tried to think of things slowing down. That part didn’t work - my third child was born after a grand total of 90 min labor}.

I’m here to second, third, and fourth the notion that ever woman is different. I went through three labors without medication. In two of them, I had C-sections after three hours of pushing. But till that point I wasn’t medicated because I didn’t ask for medication because I really didn’t feel the need. I felt lots of muscle contractions and cramping (and the odd sensation that some giant hand had taken control of my body) but not really pain per se.

Way too many women psyche themselves out and convince themselves that it will be the most terrible awful thing in the world. To be that frightened of something pretty much gaurentees it will be bad.

And I have to say that getting an epidural so that others in the labor room won’t be disturbed by the noises you make is about the most piss poor reason to get one - ever.

Hey, it’s as good an excuse as any. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for the people who love you and don’t want to see you suffer.