Elisabeth Bing is gone — but oh what a legacy she left!
100-year-old Bing died on Friday, May 15th in her Manhattan home according to the New York Times. While her name might not be familiar to some, any woman who used the Lamaze technique during childbirth should thank her profusely.
Bing was born in Germany but fled with her family to London during World War II. She eventually came to the U.S. and worked as a physical therapist. Part of her job was to provide physical therapy to mothers in the maternity ward who spent ten days confined to a hospital bed after delivering a baby. Bing witnessed women in cold hospital rooms, strapped on their backs heavily sedated with anesthesia attempting to deliver babies.
The Lamaze technique was actually created by a French obstetrician named Dr. Fernand Lamaze during the 1940’s, but it was Bing who brought the technique to light. Dr. Lamaze had observed Russians use the method out of necessity because poverty prevented the use of anesthesia. Their technique emphasized childbirth education and breathing relaxation. Lamaze began using it during his clinical practice.
Bing wanted to teach Dr. Lamaze’s method to pregnant women and eventually collaborated with Dr. Allan Guttmacher, a New York obstetrician at Mt Sinai Hospital. She eventually, along with co-founder Marjorie Karmel, started Lamaze International, a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach the Lamaze technique as well as childbirth classes to clear up the mystique regarding the birth process. Bing continued to teach the Lamaze technique at Mt Sinai Hospital well into her 80’s.
Bing leaves to mourn a son who was a college professor and a granddaughter who played the cello like her grandmother. She was an example of a life well-lived and leaves a legacy that will last forever.