The first thing that probably comes to mind when you hear Lamaze is breathing. And, you're right, it is a childbirth method that uses controlled breathing techniques to help a pregnant woman in labor. However, birth doula Ros Padua of the Pinay Doulas Collective says Lamaze isn't just about knowing how to inhale and exhale.
"Lamaze is really a way for you to gain confidence and your ability to give birth," Padua says at the Smart Parenting Convention 2018, held last July 21 at SM Megamall. "It's a way for you to achieve a gentle birth."
Contrary to popular belief, a gentle birth is not a question of having a C-section versus vaginal births, Padua explains. Both types of childbirth can be traumatic, and you can also plan for both to be "gentle."
"What we are really aiming for is a birth anchored on the mother and the baby," Padua stressed.
While the health and safety of the baby are of utmost priority, "mahalaga din na yung nanay during labor and birth, napakinggan, narinig, hindi siya isinasantabi yung nararamdaman niya," she stressed.
So how can you have a gentle birth with Lamaze? Here are six basic principles.
1. Let labor begin on its own.
If you have a typical healthy pregnancy, experts have stressed that its best for both the mom and baby that labor starts naturally and let it progress on its own. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) recommends this, too.
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Padua shared that science has proven that when the baby’s lungs are completely developed and ready to function outside the womb, it secretes a protein that triggers labor contractions.
"Hayaan lang po natin 38 to 42 weeks. Especially for our first-time moms, it’s very normal for you to pass to the 40th week," Padua said. Relax and manage your expectations, so you don't get so anxious during labor.
2. Walk, move around and change positions during labor.
"Yung pain na mararamdaman mo during labor are signals, your body’s cues. When you follow those cues, it makes the uterus work more efficiently," Padua explained. When you're walking, you're upright, and gravity can help your baby descend.
Many positions are recommended to help ease labor pain and make birth faster, which is the goal. "The longer the labor, the more painful it becomes, and the more you think na hindi mo kaya," Padua added. Remember, you have an innate ability to give birth.
3. Bring a loved one, friend or a doula for continuous support.
Husbands, partners, or any family member or a doula should be able to support birthing women. "Honey, you’re doing so beautifully, you’re so beautiful, you’re so strong." Or, "Honey, ang ganda mo. Honey, ang galing mo." (You can agree beforehand what words will help you, not annoy you.) Hearing praise and reassurance means so much to a laboring mom. Some hospitals already allow this given that the companion brings a certificate that shows he has attended and completed a birthing class.
Lamaze classes is not just the breathing; it’s also the power of touch, having a supportive birth team, and an overall caring environment.
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4. Understand interventions that are not medically necessary.
Interventions such as induction of labor, giving oxytocin to intensify contractions, breaking the water bag, episiotomy, and the like are not routine. Often, these interventions don't make birth easier or faster.
Padua suggests looking for a hospital or birthing center with a low rate of medical intervention. While there are times that interventions are necessary, "ang importante sa amin, naiintindihan ng pasyente why the intervention is necessary," she said. Make sure you are happy how your doctor answers your questions.
5. Giving birth upright follows your body’s urge to push.
"Centuries ago, women really don’t give birth lying down; they give birth squatting, standing — and [it is] still the most effective," Padua shared. Most hospitals here in the Philippines, however, still require pregnant women to give birth lying down.
If you are allowed to move around during labor, you can try to talk to your doctor about giving birth in an upright position.
6. Keep mom and baby together. It’s best for mom, baby and breastfeeding.
Locally, we know it as "Unang Yakap." As soon as the baby is delivered, he or she should be placed on the mother's chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact within the first hour of the baby's life. It also includes delayed cord clamping.
Skin-to-skin contact, otherwise known as kangaroo helps initiate breastfeeding so the baby can receive the precious colostrum (first breast milk) that's crucial to the baby's health. Delayed cord clamping, on the other hand, helps baby get as many nutrients as he can from the placenta even after birth.
Padua emphasized that the mother and baby should never be separated. "It’s the mom that is home," she said. After all, your body has been your baby's home for the past nine months. When the baby is suddenly exposed to bright lights in the delivery room, and if there's a lot of other people holding him, the baby feels insecure and afraid. He needs a familiar scent and environment, and that is you, Mom.
"You are the author of your own birth story, and you have the power to write it beautifully," Padua said.
Visit Pinay Birth Doulas's website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You may also contact them via 0920.9380963 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org