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L'Amazing Experience

By Angel Viloria (Oct 1996)

Ever notice how the word "Lamaze" has the word "amaze" in it? Well, it is pretty amazing when you think about it, this Lamaze method of childbirth and not to mention pregnancy/childbirth itself. I am not an expert on these subjects though. I just happen to be nine months pregnant, expecting my first baby anytime, and silently thinking to myself: "Will I be able to do it?"

My husband Manuel and I took up "Prepared Childbirth Classes" sometime June-July of 1996. These were conducted by Chiqui Brosas-Hahn at Horseshoe Village and the classes were held for four Saturdays. My OB at St. Lukeís recommended that we attend although I already had some friends who had suggested earlier that we attend the classes.

There were five couples in our class: Manuel and myself, Jerry and Teyeh, Anthony and Maricel, Francis and Tereh, and Kiko and Celine. Aside from learning a lot from the classes, interacting with other expectant mothers and fathers was likewise interesting. All of the four other couples have already had their babies. The score: two boys and two girls. I wonder what our child will be?

Why did we decide to take these classes in the first place? The simplest reason was I wanted Manuel with me during labor and delivery. No way was he going to get off that easy! Kidding aside, I really would want my husband with me during labor and delivery for comfort and support. I'm sure most first-time mothers feel the same way. We wouldn't want to be with strangers while we're feeling all that pain and going through such a trying time. I look forward to the occasion as a "bonding experience," when your husband can see you at your worst, help you through, and be with you as you welcome the newest addition to your family...

So, what do these classes teach you? The classes tackle topics like: nutrition, anatomy, the stages of labor, common discomforts during pregnancy and possible remedies, breastfeeding, exercises, relaxation/breathing techniques, and pain relief, among others. The objective is to educate and help prepare the couple for pregnancy and childbirth, thereby getting rid of the fear of the unknown. The thesis is that most couples or mothers are unable to cope with the pain or experience of childbirth because they really donít know what to expect. Being informed about what will and can possibly happen during the different stages of labor/childbirth should help the couple prepare.

Some of my friends who have given birth and who have also tried the Lamaze method say that the relaxation and breathing exercises help the most, of all the things that they learned in class. These exercises, together with the concept of the "focal point" (something you concentrate on while breathing or relaxing), help the pregnant woman cope with the pain of labor. Lamaze is not about ``painless" childbirth. What it does is to teach you why it is necessary to experience ``painful contractions" and to teach you how to go with the flow, so to speak. Without the contractions, baby will not be able to come out so one's frame of mind should be: "Each contraction brings me closer to seeing my baby."

The relaxation and the breathing exercises are designed to take the pregnant woman's mind off the pain of the contractions. Different breathing patterns are used for each stage of labor. The husband plays the role of a ``coach," helping the wife relax and concentrate on her breathing. With Lamaze, the husband takes an active and supportive role during labor/delivery. He is very much involved.

It is a common misconception that all Lamaze couples go though labor without the need for anesthesia or pain relief. There is also no such thing as a successful or failed Lamaze delivery. Most couples, however, go into labor hoping that they would not have any need for an epidural or any other form of pain relief because of the effects that this may have on the mother or on the baby. Lamaze couples are taught though to keep an open mind and not to hesitate to ask for pain relief if truly necessary. Such does not take away anything from the Lamaze couple and is not looked upon as a failure. For how can a process which produced another wonderful human being and which has brought the couple closer be branded as such?

As I write and sit here, waiting for the birth of my first child, I still am truly amazed by the changes that I have undergone in the last nine months. I look forward to seeing my baby soon, knowing fully well that my husband and I shall both be around to welcome him/her into the world. By taking Prepared Childbirth Classes , both my husband and I shall be able to gift our baby, hopefully (some hospitals/doctors send the hubby out once the wife asks for anesthesia), with our presence from the very first minute of his/her life. We wish the same for more couples and their babies...

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