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What Are the Different Types of Birthing Methods?

The Lamaze method emphasizes deep breathing.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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Giving birth is one of the most natural and yet complicated processes of the human body; though obviously done since time immemorial, it still remains a mysterious and often frightening idea. There are many birthing methods for modern women to choose from, all geared toward creating a calm and safe situation for birth to occur. Choosing from the many birthing methods may seem confusing and impossible; most experts suggest that it is important to find mental practices that best suit the mother and the situation, then let the body do the rest of the work.

Lamaze is a popular birthing method that dates from the mid-20th century. Key factors in this mental relaxation program include the support of a birth partner, breathing exercises, and an emphasis on drug-free, vaginal birth. Community centers, hospitals and parenting organizations may offer Lamaze classes with a certified trainer, lasting from six to 12 weeks. A hospital that offers Lamaze classes may have a Lamaze-trained nurse on staff to assist with the labor of class participants.

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The Bradley Method® is one of the most popular birthing methods that focuses on whole body preparation for birth. Classes last about three months and cover ideas such as proper nutrition and exercise for pregnant women. Most classes are themed around an aspect of the pregnancy or birthing process, such as labor techniques for partners, possible birth complications, and mental preparation for the first few weeks after birth. Like Lamaze classes, Bradley Method® classes are often given through hospitals.

Alternative birthing methods tend to emphasize comfort, home care, and unusual techniques for labor management. Some are offered by practitioners of alternative medicine or by midwives and home birth specialists. While not for everyone, these birthing methods can be excellent for women with no signs of potential complications who do not like the idea of more standard birthing methods.

One popular alternative birthing method is water birth. This involves experiencing labor and birth while immersed in a tub of warm water. Proponents suggest that the warm, liquid environment is less traumatic for an infant since it is similar in composition to the womb. Additionally, the warm water may help women relax and prevent muscle strain and exhaustion. Critics suggest that birthing in water may increase the risk of infection and water inhalation by the infant.

Many birthing methods incorporate meditation techniques to help the mother manage pain and anxiety. Some include the practice of hypnosis, or use deep breathing techniques to help produce a calm environment. While it is important to remember that actually giving birth will be a far more intense situation that a practice room, regular practice can help create mental habits that can be called into play in the sometimes stressful event of labor.

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