The Official Lamaze Guide
Giving Birth with Confidence
By Judith Lothian, RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE and Charlotte DeVries
Edited by Christine Zuchora-Walske and Megan McGinnis FOR QUANTITY DISCOUNTS OF THIS TITLE, PLEASE CALL 800-338-2232, EXT. 106.
Lamaze’s vision for the future is that formal childbirth education, in person and online, should start early in pregnancy. In the second edition of The Official Lamaze Guide, the authors share Lamaze’s belief that preparing for birth and becoming a mother takes all of pregnancy, not just six weeks of formal classes at the end of the third trimester.
This new edition has been updated to reflect the latest evidence-based research on pregnancy and childbirth. Since the first edition, childbirth in the U.S. has gotten riskier. The cesarean rate has continued to rise; now almost one third of women in the U.S. have a cesarean. There’s been a shocking rise in the maternal mortality rate. More babies are admitted to NICUs, and there’s been an alarming increase in incidences of postpartum depression and post traumatic stress disorder related to childbirth. Lamaze believes that all women have the right and the responsibility to get complete and accurate information about pregnancy and birth, and to choose what’s best for them and their babies based on that information.
The second edition of The Official Lamaze Guide will showcase the six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, which are supported by research studies that examine the benefits and risks of maternity care practices.
1. Let labor begin on its own.
2. Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.
3. Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.
4. Avoid interventions that aren’t medically necessary.
5. Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.
6. Keep mother and baby together—it’s best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding.
The mission of Lamaze International is to promote, support and protect natural, safe, and healthy birth through education and advocacy through the dedicated efforts of professional childbirth educators, providers, and parents.
Why Another Birth Book?
In the previous edition of The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence, we noted that stepping into a bookstore revealed hundreds of birth books on the shelves. Some claimed to be the “complete guide” or the “better way” to have a baby. Some were filled with illustrations of developing babies, charts listing possible complications, and intricate biological details. Some were technical and scientific; others were warm and even funny.
When we reviewed all those birth books, we found that instead of encouraging women, the bestsellers cataloged what to fear when you’re expecting. It was no surprise that their readers often end up alarmed, afraid, and eager to choose medical interventions like epidurals and cesareans.
As we prepared to write this new edition of our book, we discovered that things have not changed much. Today, as in 2005, very few pregnancy books deliver the simple message that we think pregnant women need to hear most: Birth is a natural part of life. We conceived this book nearly a decade ago from our deep conviction that women know how to give birth—and that women need to rediscover this very important, basic truth.
Throughout history, the wisdom of birthing has belonged to the family and community. The majority of the world’s women have given birth among people they know, in a familiar and comfortable place. Birth has been considered a family event, not a medical one—until recently. In our modern, technology-centered culture, birth has moved from the home to the hospital, from the care of friends and family to the oversight of medical professionals, where touch and patience often give way to tests and timekeeping.
We believe deeply that birth is a process you can trust, just as millions of women before you have. This belief isn’t sentimental; it’s based on our thorough understanding of the physiologic birth process and research that confirms interfering in that process is harmful, unless there’s clear evidence that interference provides benefit.
Unlike many other pregnancy and birth books—and, surprisingly, much of standard obstetric care—this book is evidence-based. We often refer to The Cochrane Library (a collection of careful studies and systematic reviews of current research) and A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth (a summary of The Cochrane Library’s maternity research findings with recommendations for practice). In this edition, the research has been updated. As you read this book, you’ll see that research continues to support the excellence of nature’s design for birth.
Simply said, it’s safer and healthier for you and for your baby to allow the natural process of labor and birth unfold in the way that nature intended. In this new edition, we highlight over and over again that the best way to ensure a safe and healthy birth is to not interfere in the natural process without a serious medical indication.
“What Lamaze offers women isn’t a ‘method’ but rather the confidence to stop worrying and start believing that a woman’s body does birth best, and that every woman deserves patient, gentle, unwavering support through this process. This book gives women something new to ‘expect’: to be amazed at our own power and strength.”
—Jennifer Block, author of Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
“This is a superb book. Though it’s called ‘official’ it isn’t written in bureaucratic language and isn't heaped with instructions. It's humane, funny, tender, down-to-earth and joyful. Essential reading for all pregnant women who seek autonomy in childbirth.”
—Sheila Kitzinger, author of The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth.
“The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence is the first book that every pregnant woman should read before she makes any decisions about her maternity care. This book is a breath of fresh air. By following these explanations and recommendations women will gain the best chance of having a normal, natural, healthy and empowering birth.”
—Marshall Klaus, MD and Phyllis Klaus, MFT, CSW, authors of The Doula Book, Your Amazing Newborn, and Bonding.
“This book is a wonderful resource that provides the information, knowledge and skills to expectant parents who want to play a central role in their children’s births.”
—Penny Simkin, Co-author of Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn.
“At last there is a resource that emphasizes normal birth and increases parents' confidence. The honest information and reassuring tone of the authors truly get to the heart of women's fears and allows them to explore those fears in a safe way. The book contains life skills such as communication and negotiation and tells the simple story of birth in a manner that left me in awe. I wish I had been able to share this book with expectant families during my first 17 years of teaching and being a doula.”
—Anne Grauer, LCCE, President, DONA International
“Warm and wise, honest yet reassuring, chock full of information, and based on the latest and best research, any pregnant woman who wants a normal birth should put this book on her ‘A’ List.”
—Henci Goer, author of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
No. 1 Pick on About.com Top Pregnancy Books:
“This book is an instant classic! With great advice, humor and birth stories, Lothian and DeVires share the truth about birth and how to make it a wonderful time in your life. The factual information is provided in a practical way, including how to pick a place of birth, talk to you doctor or midwife and most importantly how to trust your body.”
—Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE, About.com
“The Official Lamaze Guide is a source of information that women need to have and a message that women need to hear. I think it accomplishes its purpose skillfully and has the potential to be a transformative influence. I hope women read it, absorb it, and begin to celebrate birth!”
—Molly Remer, MSW, CCCE