As the foundation of Lamaze, the Healthy Birth Practices were designed using years of evidence-based research. These six practices are simple and effective, making it easy for you to understand your options and know what the safest care is (and what it is not) and how to achieve it.
When you have a birth that follows the six care practices, you increase the likelihood of healthier, safer, and more positive outcomes in birth, both physically and mentally. Achieving a birth that includes these care practices requires being informed and having support — from your partner and/or birth support team (including your doula if chosen), as well as your care provider (doctor, midwife, or OB) and staff at your place of birth (hospital, home, or birth center). If you want to know more about how to be successful with the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, check out our 60 Tips series.
So what, exactly, are the practices? Let’s look.
- Healthy Birth Practice 1: Let labor begin on its own
In other words — avoid induction when possible (and more often than not, it’s possible). A labor that is induced requires a significant amount of medical interventions (practices that interfere with and alter the typical course of labor and birth, increasing your risk of adverse outcomes). Letting birth start on its own time, however, allows critical hormones to release, helping birth along and increasing you and your baby’s best chance at health.
- Healthy Birth Practice 2: Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor
Put simply: movement helps get a baby out. Your movement through labor helps baby’s movement through birth! Movement also is one of the best ways to cope with the intensity of contractions during labor. You can learn the most about moving in labor by taking a good childbirth class.
- Healthy Birth Practice 3: Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
Some things in life are better shared with a friend. Birth is one of those things. Having someone alongside you throughout your labor and birth to support and encourage you (physically, emotionally, mentally) is proven way to improve your birth experience.
- Healthy Birth Practice 4: Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
As mentioned before, interventions can increase risks. Sometimes, interventions are necessary. Other times, they’re overused. Learn why and when interventions are needed and how to avoid them if they’re not.
- Healthy Birth Practice 5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push
But doesn’t everyone give birth on their back? No, they do not. And in fact, giving birth on your back only became routine once birth moved into the hospitals and doctors decided it was easier — for them. Our bodies are designed in life and in birth with gravity in mind. Not only is it often more comfortable for the person giving birth, but giving birth in upright positions helps baby move and rotate through the birth canal easier. This practice also encourages pushing according to your own urges instead of being told when and how to push — it’s better for parent and baby.
- Healthy Birth Practice 6: Keep mother and baby together – It’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding
You just gave birth to your baby — the last thing you want to do is hand baby to medical staff! Barring any emergency medical situation, your baby can and should stay with you as long as is desired. There are just too many important processes that take place when you are together after birth with your baby.
In this new year, approaching this new birth, dive into the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices and plan for a healthy, happy birth for you and your baby. To learn more, search for a childbirth class taught by a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, where you will learn in depth these six practices and much, much more!