Lamaze Breathing

The History of Lamaze Breathing

The art of Lamaze breathing as a means to aid the birthing mother through the throes of painful labor has been around for decades. However, many people may not know of its origin, reasons for, and actual techniques required to optimally accomplish a successful childbirth using the Lamaze Method.

Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze on a visit to Russia in 1951 conferred with the famous scientist Ivan Pavlov. Dr. Pavlov had for years been researching the affects of stimuli on people and their responses based on their habitual instincts.  From this information, Dr. Lamaze assimilated this information into his own studies. He surmised that if pregnant woman giving birth could control their environment by practicing the art of what is now known as Lamaze breathing, woman could control their reactions to the pain and have a successful, drug free childbirth.

The belief that childbirth is a natural process and should remain so was at the time not upheld by many hospitals and birthing centers. At the time (1950’s) many woman were simply heavily sedated or drugged in order to ease the birthing process. Given an alternative to a drugged birth, the natural Lamaze Method was a breath of fresh air for many mothers who wanted to experience the beauty of natural childbirth.

Grateful for the alternative method of childbirth, a woman by the name of Marjorie Karmel wrote the book “Thank You, Dr. Lamaze”. The popularity of the book sky rocketed the Lamaze Method into being one of the most well known birthing techniques used today.  Ms. Karmel helped to open Lamaze International which provided awareness to woman all over the world about the Lamaze Method as a means to aid the natural childbirth process.

It is recommended that the Lamaze Method should be implemented into the early pregnancy routine. By learning early in pregnancy the importance of good breath control, how many breaths you breathe per minute, and how to relax by the simple technique of inhaling and exhaling slowly, the soon to be mommy will be building a strong foundation for a natural childbirth.

Not only is Lamaze breathing beneficial during childbirth but also to control stress and anxiety during the long months of pregnancy. By controlling one’s breathing during times of stress and anxiety, heart rate slows and blood flow regulates. This will allow the pregnant mother to provide the best, healthiest environment for the fetus to grow.

During the three stages of labor, different variations of the Lamaze Method will need to be implemented.  During the first stage of labor, deep inhaling and exhaling, similar to the breathing used to reduce stress during pregnancy can be best used during this stage.  Usually, the pain of childbirth has not yet become severe.

During the second stage of labor, the pregnant mother may need to choose a specific visual aid to keep her visual stimuli to a minimum. By focusing on a particular object or place on the wall, the mother will have better control over her ability to focus on her breathing. Deep inhaling and exhaling should continue as pain increases, light massaging can be given by her partner.


As the third stage of labor begins and pain has become more severe, the well practiced mother will have the tools she will need to focus her breaths using the techniques she has implemented from studying Dr. Lamaze. Breathing in a patterned deep cleansing inhale followed by three or four rapid exhales and finishing in a final big exhale blow should be repeated as often as needed.

The Lamaze Method has helped many women by giving them back the control over how they want their childbirth experience to occur. It’s important to become as prepared as possible before childbirth to ensure that the decision to have a safe and natural childbirth will be followed through with. Lamaze breathing has become a proven way to aid mothers to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience.