Childbirth Preparation Methods: Lamaze

Most people think of it as a “breathing technique” that helps women during labor and delivery. However, Lamaze is much more than that. Through the years, this childbirth education method as evolved into a philosophy that builds women's confidence and prepares them for pregnancy and birth. So, what are the main principles of Lamaze? And what can you expect to happen during a Lamaze class?

View Episode Transcript

Featured Expert

Featured Series

  • Childbirth Preparation Methods

    Need to register for your childbirth class? Whether you’re having a natural birth or a medically-assisted birth, there are several ways you can prepare for your baby’s birth. We’ll explore the different types of childbirth preparation methods for labor and delivery.

Featured Segments

  • Preggie Pals Mail

    How are we doing? We want to hear from you! Have an idea for a future episode? Let us know. Submit your comments and questions through our website voicemail, or via email and we’ll discuss them on a future episode.

  • Maternity Fashion Trends

    You’re pregnant. Now, make a fashion statement. We’re exploring the top fashion trends when it comes to showing off your new baby bump. Buy new, used or learn practical ways to save money by utilizing clothes you already have in your closet.

Episode Transcript

Preggie Pals
“Childbirth Preparation Methods: Lamaze”

Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

 [00:00:00] Start of Audio

Sunny Gault: Throughout the last 40 years, Lamaze has evolved into a philosophy many women use to build their confidence throughout pregnancy and birth and today we are joined by Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan.  She’s a retired Nurse, a Doula, Lactation Consultant and Child-birth Educator and today we are exploring the benefits of Lamaze.  This is Preggie Pals, Episode 22.

[Theme Music/Intro]

Sunny Gault: Welcome to Preggie Pals, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego.  I’m your host Sunny Gault.  If you love talking about pregnancy, we would love for you to join our Preggie Pals blogging team.  It’s a great way to connect with other moms-to-be and share your experience and you also have the opportunity to test and review pregnancy and parenting related products.  So if you want some more information on that, visit our website at  Do you have an amazing birth story you would like to share with our audience?  We would love to interview you via Video Skype about that experience.  To be considered, simply visit and answer a few quick questions.  That’s also where you can view some of the interviews we’ve already posted online.  So throughout today’s interview, if you do hear some clicking in the background, Katie Stevens is joining us.  She is a birth photographer, professional birth photographer here in San Diego, and she’s taking some behind the scenes photos which we’ll post on our Facebook page.  So if you hear the clicking, that’s just Katie.  Okay, so let’s meet some of our panelists here in the studio.  Stephanie, let’s start with you.

Stephanie Saalfeld: Hi, I’m Stephanie Saalfeld.  I am 29, I am a gemologist.  Due January 9th with my first baby and it’s a girl, and we are having a hospital birth.

Misty Davies: My name is Misty Davies, I’m 33.  I am also a gemologist.  I am due October 10 with a little girl, my first and I’m hoping for an un-medicated hospital birth.

Sunny Gault: Okay, welcome to the show ladies.

[Theme Music] 

[Featured Segments:  From Our Listeners - Thanks for the Gender Prediction Episode!]

Sunny Gault: We have a comment from one of our listeners.  This comment comes from Lisa, from Medina, Ohio.  I’m actually from Ohio too, so a shout-out to my peeps!  Can I say “Peeps!”  I don’t know if I sound really cool saying that, but Shout-out to everyone in Ohio!  Anyways,  Lisa says:  “Thanks so much for the episode about Gender Prediction.  I have to admit I’m one of those pregnant moms who has tried every wives-tale out there when it come to trying to predict your baby’s gender.  So, it was really nice to hear from a Sonographer about what they are actually looking for in an Ultra Sound to determine gender.  Can’t wait to find out what we’re having. Two more weeks till our appointment.  Thanks again.”  And actually, I think Lisa a couple of weeks ago, so probably knows what she’s having but Lisa, thanks so much for writing in to the show, we really appreciate your comment.

[Theme Music]

Sunny Gault: Today, we are continuing our on-going series about the various childbirth preparation methods available to you.  And we hope this series will give you the additional information you need to decide what type of child-birth class is best for you and for your baby.  Today, we are focused on Lamaze and Sigrid Nelson-Ryan is joining us here in our studio.  And Sigrid, thank you so much for being here.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: You’re welcome.

Sunny Gault: It was so funny, I was talking to you on the phone and I remember you saying to me:  “Don’t you want someone younger?”  [Laughs]  And  I said “Sigrid, I want the best!”  And you came highly recommended.  So, I’m so thankful you are here to share your wisdom with us.  Obviously, you’ve been a Child-birth Educator for a while now, focused on Lamaze.  So, I know this is a passionate topic for you.  So, I’m excited to explore this a bit more.  So, Sigrid, let’s start with the History of Lamaze.  I actually read it started in 1951 and was founded by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, which is obviously, how Lamaze got its name.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Actually, it started in Russia in the 40s where they had no drugs and they were using hypnosis.  Self hypnosis…

Sunny Gault: Wow!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: …plus exercises.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And I think we have something, today similar by hypnosis?

Sunny Gault: Sure!  Yeah,  Hypno-birthing.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And it was a whole way of dealing with birth.  Not just the breathing, but what happened in the hospital was that all the people there, just noticed the breathing.

Sunny Gault: Because that’s what we think. We think of Lamaze, we think of “Hee, hee, hoo, hoo!”, but it’s so much more than that.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Absolutely! And it never was, “Hee, hee, hoo, hoo!”


Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: It was just something that the doctors and nurses in the hospital, because you have to realize in the 50s and 60s, we were more confined to bed.  You know, so you got to the hospital very late in labor so that there would be very little time in bed.  But what…, so by the time you got to the hospital and you were 6, 7, 8 centimeters dilated and you used a lot of the breathing technique to cope with being in bed.  So that  was the…, what the professionals saw.

Sunny Gault: I see.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And it became known, “Oh, you are doing the Lamaze method.”

Sunny Gault: I see, okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yeah.  Then it changed in the 70s and 80s and I started teaching in 70s and we have been teaching all of the things that Dr. Lamaze did in Europe…,

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: …and this movement and changing your attitude, you position and enjoying both and doing it by believing that your body knows what to do.  Not to interfere during the birth.  The basic philosophy of Lamaze is very important.  Number one, labor begins on its own.

Sunny Gault: So no induction?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: No induction.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: There has to be induction like 42 weeks or something and that means something isn’t really working here.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Walk and move around, change position in labor, very important.  And bring a loved one, a Doula or friend for continuous support from home to hospital and in hospital.  But otherwise not, you meet new people in hospital you don’t know.

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And to avoid interventions that are not medically necessary, but otherwise fetal monitoring, you can have that intermittent.  Very rarely do they need to have it on constantly.

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And even in women who have a high-risk situation, where they feel that they really need to listen to that baby, because the baby has a little problem, they could sit on a birth-ball, they can be on hands and knees in bed, they don’t have to lie on their back.

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: They can walk around with a tether or…, they can do a lot of things that we have another…, avoid giving birth on your back.

Sunny Gault: Why is that bad?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: It doesn’t work to push up-hill!

Sunny Gault: Right!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Have you ever tried to go to the….,

Sunny Gault: It makes sense…..

All: [Cross Talks]  I know!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Have you ever tried to go…, well, probably been in a hospital on a bed pan…  I haven’t quite….

Sunny Gault: [Laughs]

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And what happens…., you, you can’t…, it’s very hard to have that kind of a motion, when you are sitting or lying down.

Sunny Gault: Yeah.  It doesn’t make sense…, it doesn’t work with gravity.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And also, the pelvis is one-third larger, when you squat.

Sunny Gault: Really?!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: One-third larger!  The out-let….

Sunny Gault: Oh my goodness!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yes!

Stephanie Saalfeld: Well that makes sense.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And I show that in my classes and I have a pelvis and I show them that change in the pelvis…

Misty Davies: Right! So I’ll need to grab a stick and squat!  Open up my pelvis!

All: Yeah!  [Laughter]

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: That’s right!

Sunny Gault: Wow!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And then we have another one that is very, very important and that is that:  You should follow the urge to push, not somebody, “Hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it!  Push, push, push!”, it’s crazy!  It’s not what you do.

Sunny Gault: It’s not natural!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: No!

Stephanie Saalfeld: That makes sense.

Sunny Gault: Yeah.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: You, you push as you need to, as you feel to and sometimes, moms need to know, you are having contractions now, take a couple of breaths and then, and go with it.

Sunny Gault: Yeah and that makes perfect sense to me because what drives me crazy is when they tell you to do certain things that go against what would naturally do.  And what happened way back, you know, hundreds of years ago, when we didn’t have hospitals, we didn’t have these things and we were giving birth in tents or wherever we were at.  I mean, we just went with whatever our body did.  If it worked back then, why doesn’t it work now?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Well, the thing is, your body knows what to do.

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Your body knows how to give birth.

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: You just have to trust your body and that is one of the things we teach in the Lamaze classes.  And sometimes, I just call my classes Child Birth Education Classes.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: The Lamaze have gotten kind of a funny name like – “Oh, it’s just about huffing and puffing…”

Stephanie Saalfeld: Right.

Sunny Gault: Well, that’s what…, I think people initially…., I mean, ladies, I mean, what did you think?  When I said “Hey, we’re going to do an episode on Lamaze!”, you were like “Hee, hee, hoo, hoo!”, right?

Misty Davies: Right, that’s exactly what I thought.  That It’s a little, you know kind of old school method of….

Sunny Gault: Right, right.  So, you know, we talked about the breathing and going with what your body naturally does.  We talked about being able to be mobile and being able to move, wherever you know, your body kind of takes you when you are in labor, so that kind of brings me to the idea of Natural Birth versus having some sort of medication.  Can you have medication and still do Lamaze or is it really just better suited for people who are just going for a Natural Birth?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: No.

Sunny Gault: No what?! [Laughs]

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: No, it’s not…., it’s not specifically suited for anybody.  It’s a preparation.  Like someone says – “Oh, I’ve failed Lamaze!” and I said, “Well, what happened?”  “Well, I got to the hospital and the baby was in distress and they did cesarean!”.  Well that has nothing to do with Lamaze.  Lamaze is a preparation for child-birth.  It’s an attitude that your body knows what to do.  If you have a medical problem, thank God, we have…

Sunny Gault: Thank God we have that available!  Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: …, we have that.  It’s just that it’s been so horrendously over used.  We used to have 5% cesarean.  Now, it’s up to half the women are having cesarean.

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And you wonder why, why has women’s body all of a sudden, they can’t give birth?!

Sunny Gault: It hasn’t changed. [Laughs] That hasn’t changed.  You are right, it’s our philosophy, it’s our mentality.  Speaking of that, what is needed in order to be successful at Lamaze?  Like what kind of mind frame?  What type of women are most successful at this?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Well, a good teacher will help a woman allay her fears so that she starts believing her body.  She starts believing that – “Hey, I can do this!”  A faith in the woman’s ability to give birth is so essential, so important and it is sometimes gets pulled down by doctors.  You have to realize that the attitude of the physician and of the nurses in the labor floor, unless you are very lucky, are “Just get it over with, get the next patient in.”  So the other thing that you need is support person, because when you are in labor and you are dealing with the birth, with the contractions, takes an extraordinary woman to be strong enough.

Sunny Gault: So, are you talking about a Doula?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: A Doula or a husband or the father.  The father of the child.  The father is very important, but if he hasn’t taken classes, or if he hasn’t…., if he’s not feeling strong about it, he may destroy her confidence.  The best students I’ve had are farmers.  They have been through a lot of births.

Sunny Gault: Oh! I would imagine so, right?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yeah.  And they have no problem with the birth….

Stephanie Saalfeld: Sure!  That makes sense.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: It’s called labor in languages of the world!  It’s is hard work!  It is damn hard work!  It really is!


Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: People don’t feel us, how hard a work is labor is!  Especially the first labor.  And, you stay home and deal with it in your tub, in your shower, in the kitchen, eating, drinking.  I always tell them to make an ice-cream shake in labor and to eat light, easy food, because you, well – “But I can throw up!”, but then you will throw up in labor anyway!  Towards the very end, a lot of women throw up because there is so much action in your intestines.  The intestines are right in front of your uterus and around it and they get irritated from all these contractions, so often at the end of labor, women throw up!  But eating in labor is essential.  Mange’, Mange’!  When I’m a Doula, with somebody, I just keep feeding her!


Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Light things, light things.  You know?  You ladies like that?

Sunny Gault: Sure! Yeah! I like that and I’m not even pregnant!  Would you just come over to my house and feed me, Sigrid?


Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yeah, yeah.  And I’ll feed you, you know?  This is, this is very, very important, you know?  To have the right kind of things, so….

Sunny Gault: When we come back, we’ll discuss the different ways you can learn Lamaze and we’ll learn what you can expect should you decide to take a Lamaze class.  We’ll be right back.

[Theme Music]

Sunny Gault: Welcome back everyone.  We are talking about Lamaze, of course, a child-birth preparation method and it’s one of our methods we are exploring in our on-going series, and joining us is Sigrid Nelson-Ryan.  She’s a retired Child-birth Educator, who has taught Lamaze….  For how many years did you teach Lamaze Sigrid?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: I started in actually after my second son was born in ’69.  I’ve been teaching for a long time.

Sunny Gault: A long time!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: I still teach Marines and Navy personnel pro-bono….,

Sunny Gault: Ahhh, nice.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Because my, my, both my sons are in the military.

Sunny Gault: Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful, okay so…

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: But I don’t have group classes.

Sunny Gault: But you did, you did at one point.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Oh, I did, yes.

Sunny Gault: Well, let’s talk about the classes.  Let’s talk about what women and their partners can experience in these classes.  So, who should attend these classes?  We talked earlier about, you need a support system, so does your husband, your spouse, your partner need to come to class with you, is that something you’d recommend?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Absolutely!

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And if your husband can’t attend for some reason, like we have the military, where they are away and they are coming back just before the birth…,

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: …and then we encourage them to have a girlfriend, a sister, a mother, somebody…, and they do need to take classes.

Sunny Gault: Why do they need to be in a class as opposed to like, taking, you know listening to a CD or reading a book or something like that?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Because Lamaze…., birth is very physical.  Think about it, it’s a very physical.  It’s your body doing a job, a labor.

Sunny Gault: And at what point should we sign up or start taking these classes in our pregnancy?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Well, you need to find a Child-birth Educator as soon as you know you are pregnant.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: They are wealth of information for the entire pregnancy.  The class for Lamaze is better taken in the last two months because you have to continue practicing all the techniques.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And so, if you start in that last two months, you at least get…, even if your baby’s pre-mature, you have gotten three or four classes in before the baby’s born.

Sunny Gault: Can you give us an idea of what women will experience in these classes?  Like what typically happens in a class?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: There should be in at least 12 hours of instruction.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: That is important.  Learning how to relax in labor; how to work with your body; why it works to walk; why it works with ice in one minute and then heat-pad the next minute on your back.

Sunny Gault: So, it’s explaining why you are doing the things you are doing, because then it makes more sense.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yeah.

Sunny Gault: Yeah. In the class, do you actually teach the breathing that we talked about earlier?  Is there, is there still a manner which you teach the breathing that’s….

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Oh yeah!  Well, the thing is, first of all, you do not show breathing.  The important thing is to focus.  Whatever you are doing, focusing, so you focus on a spot in your line of vision…., yeah, but you never do that “Hee, hee, hoo, hoo!”  You wouldn’t even hear my students!  It is not the speed, it’s the concentration on doing it correctly.  It’s not the speed.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: So, the speed and sound is not what helps you.

Sunny Gault: I was going to say, because we, you know, when we think about Lamaze, we think of the partner kind of in your face going “Breath!” and then….

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: When somebody says to you and you are in agony, and said “Breath!”, you slap him!

Sunny Gault: Yeah!  It’s true!  It’s true.  It’s usually on the sit-coms you see that!

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: This is why we teach, we teach the husband or partner or sister to be helpful, but never say the word “Breath!”  Say:  “Look at me, breath with me.”

Sunny Gault: Right.  To lead by example, really.  And that’s why it’s important for them to be in the class.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yeah.  Yeah.  And that helps very much.

Sunny Gault: So what would you say to a woman who was considering Lamaze as her preparation method?  What would you say to her?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Well, first of all, “What have you heard about Lamaze?”

Sunny Gault: Because there’s a lot of stuff out there that may not be true, right?

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: Yeah.

Sunny Gault: Okay.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: “What have you heard about Lamaze?  What do you know about Lamaze?  Why do you want to do it?”  So, they say, “Well, I want to learn the breathing.” I say, “Great!  You want to be learning how to measure, how to focus, how to know, how to do, and why you are doing it”

Sunny Gault: Right.

Sigrid Nelsson-Ryan: And then you are going to learn so much more.  The mission of Lamaze International is to promote, support and protect, natural, safe and healthy birth, through education and advocacy and through the dedicated effort of professional Child-birth Educators, providers and parents.

Sunny Gault: So that’s the actual Lamaze Mission Statement, right?  Okay.  And I know we’ve only really scratched the surface of Lamaze, so if you guys want some more information, please visit  It’s really great, the website.  You can submit questions, you can view their video library and you can even find a Lamaze class that’s near you.  And we’ll put a link on our Episodes page, for this episode on our website and we’ll also link to some other Lamaze resources for you guys.  So Sigrid, this has been a blast.  Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and for being with us today.

[Theme Music]

[Featured Segments:  Maternity Fashion Trends - How to Dress a Fuller Figure]

Sunny Gault: Before we wrap today’s show, here’s some Maternity Fashion Trends from Crystal Stubbendeck of Borrow For Your Bump.

Crystal Stubbendeck: Hello Preggie Pals.  I am Crystal Stubbendeck, Maternity Fashion Expert and founder of Borrow For Your Bump, where you can buy or rent maternity style for a monthly rate.  As women, we are always looking for ways  to look slimmer.  Add a growing bump to the equation can create even more difficulty. Today, we are going to talk about dressing a fuller figure, while looking polished and stylish.  First, any style that is A-Line or fits straight down is slimming.  For Fall, try a thin trench-coat with a belt or a pencil skirt and maybe wear black, which is always a flattering option.  Just makes sure to choose a material that has a lining which will prevent bulging and of course a stretchy-waist that will grow with your bump.  We love the pull-down options that are more adjustable as your body changes.  Second, avoid anything with pockets, which could make your hips look bigger, or have a tailor sew pockets shut which will create a smooth and sleek appearance.  Next, take control and distract the eye.  Wear jewelry or bright colors.  Wear patterns on areas you want to accentuate and dark solid colors on places you want to look slimmer.  Also, create an imbalance.  Pink cropped pants with heels or even showing more skin for slenderness.  V-neck shirts also elongate the torso area.  Don’t be afraid to grab a man’s basic white-collared shirt and wear unbuttoned to the bra-line.  Our fore-pitch is one simple word.  Shoes.  New pumps are always great because they make your legs look longer.  Want more color?  Go with a shade or two darker than your pants or tights.  You will look thinner and taller.  However, avoid ankle-straps or booties which cut off the leg-line.  To balance wide hips, also try a chunky heel.  Lastly, buy yourself a beautiful well-fitting bra.  You deserve it and often, it will improve your posture and your confidence too.  As a full-figured woman, embrace your body and look confident, you will look beautiful and stylish.  Don’t forget to check out more flattering styles at enter promo-code Preggie Pals at check-out to save 20% off your entire order.  Thanks for listening to today’s tips on dressing a fuller figure and be sure to listen to Preggie Pals for more great pregnancy tips.

[Theme Music]

Sunny Gault: That wraps up our show for today. Don’t forget you can listen to our shows through our free Preggie Pals Apps on Android and Apple devices.  It’s great for moms on the go, who have a few minutes to spare, like when you are waiting to see your OB, or your waiting to see if that pregnancy test is going to show a plus sign or a minus sign.  Hey, you know, you can never be too prepared.  Coming up next week, we are learning about Birthing Centers.  Thanks for Listening to Preggie Pals, your pregnancy, your way.


This has been a New Mommy Media Production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only.  Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts.  Though such information materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problems or disease or prescribing any medication.  If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

[00:22:10] End Of Audio

Love our shows? Join our community and continue the conversation! Mighty Moms is our online support group, with parenting resources and helpful new mom stories you won’t find anywhere else! You’ll also have a chance to be featured on our shows.

Become a Mighty Mom!