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birth: Natural Childbirth

In recent years so-called natural childbirth has come into wide use; the advantages are that the child is born undrugged and the mother can be conscious at the moment of birth. Natural childbirth emphasizes the ability of many women to give birth with a minimal amount of pain-killing drugs or none at all. The Dick-Read method, formulated by the British obstetrician of that name, emphasizes maternal understanding of the birth process as an aid to relaxation, and exercises to strengthen muscles and encourage proper breathing. The Lamaze method, or psychoprophylaxis, is of Soviet Russian origin; it uses breathing exercises as a conditioned response to uterine contractions. The Leboyer method, developed by a French obstetrician, is an approach that seeks to minimize any trauma for the newborn through the use of a quiet room with dimmed light, immediate contact with the mother, and the like, and can be combined with other methods that focus on the mother and labor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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