The Founder of Lamaze Says Farewell

Courtesy of the New York Times

Courtesy of the New York Times

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.


Thinking About Having a Water Birth? Please Think Again.

The next time you see one of those You Tube® videos singing the praises about water births, Amy Stenton wants you to think again.. She had one and now wants them stopped. She sued The Legacy Healthcare system for 35 million dollars as a result of the injuries incurred by her son who now has significant disabilities including cerebral palsy and hearing problems. He will need life-long care. We often hear about patients suing for damages but when patients demand that the hospital program be shut down because it’s dangerous, it gives us reason to pause.

Stenton and her spouse, Matthew Marino, read the hospital’s website and assumed water births were safe. Allegedly the website read:  “European studies have shown a lower use of pain medication, decreased need for medicines to stimulate labor, decreased perception of pain, and high patient satisfaction, among other benefits, ­during labor and delivery in a birth tub.”  What the website omitted was the expert opinion of both The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatricians who do not think water births are safe.

If you are considering water births, here are the facts:

  • Laboring in water is okay. Delivering in water is not. The safety of having a baby in water has not been established
  • The baby’s umbilical cord could snap off or rupture
  • The baby could drown
  • Potential infections from the tubs
  • Patients need to be low-risk before entering the tub during early labor
  • Difficulty in checking the baby’s temperature
  • Breathing problems for the baby

Unfortunately there were no physicians available during Stenton’s birth which aggravated the situation.

Based on a survey in 2005, there are approximately 143 birth centers in the U.S. that allows water births however, as a result of Stenton’s lawsuit, those numbers might change.

Is Underwater Childbirth Safe? Some Doctors Say No.

Compliments of Health Day News

Compliments of Health Day News

Most women look forward to having a baby but no one wants to feel pain. In recent years, having a baby in a pool of water has become a popular trend because it allegedly reduces the need for pain meds and anesthesia however not so fast, says both obstetricians and pediatricians. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have issued a formal opinion (Committee Opinion #594 April 2014) that does not support “immersion” (aka underwater) births because of its associated complications while a mother is pushing to deliver her baby. The “pushing” part of childbirth is also known as “second stage labor.”
Why is this important? Because there are presently 143 birthing centers in the U.S. that offer underwater births to pregnant women. In fact, 1% of all births in the United Kingdom are immersion. While some research claims that these births are safe, experts think otherwise and state that the number of women studied was too small to detect rare but potentially harmful outcomes.
While some women may experience a feeling of well being and control, decreased stress and less vaginal tears during an immersion birth, according to the Committee Opinion, there is no scientific evidence that an underwater or immersion birth helps the baby. In fact, there is evidence of increased complications such as
• increased infections to both the mother and newborn, especially after the membranes are ruptured (aka “water broke”)
• difficulty in regulated the newborn’s temperature
• increased risk of the umbilical cord tearing from the placenta
• infant drowning and near drowning
• infant seizures and suffocation
• severe infant breathing problems
Should women give up immersion births completely? Probably not. The experts think that a woman may stay in these tubs during labor but should NOT push or deliver the baby underwater. They also recommend stricter protocols, patient selection and infection control.
If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to the blog, like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter