Natural Methods of Childbirth

Of the natural methods of childbirth, Lamaze is the most widely-known.   Dr. Fernand Lamaze introduced this method in France circa 1951 after observing childbirth techniques used in Russia. 

Originally, this method consisted of education classes, relaxation and breathing techniques and emotional support from a birth companion and a trained nurse.

This method spread to the US in the late 1950s in direct result of the book, Thank You Dr. Lamaze, a book written by Marjorie Karmel detailing her birth experience as assisted by Dr. Lamaze.  Ms. Karmel went on to partner with Elisabeth Bing in 1960 to form ASPO/Lamaze, which became Lamaze International, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the Lamaze method and certifying Lamaze childbirth educators.

Trademarks of the Lamaze method included its breathing techniques.  These have been widely depicted and in some cases, misconstrued across the media.  Another main tenet of the method was the belief that pain was an integral part of childbirth, but that a woman could learn to be distracted from the pain by focusing her concentration on an object during labor.

Lamaze has undergone the most significant changes since its inception.  Lamaze breathing techniques are no longer the trademark of this method as they once were.  However, many misconceptions persist. The current training encourages educators to decide what and how they will teach by developing their own curriculum, schedule and materials rather than teaching from a prescribed curriculum as it common in other methods. For this reason, classes and content can vary widely from instructor to instructor, allowing greater flexibility and customization to individual populations.

For more information on the Lamaze method, contact Lamaze International at

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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