Why men should go to childbirth classes

Health & Fitness

Why men should go to childbirth classes


Despite the growing popularity of Lamaze classes, where women are taught breathing exercises during labor and alternative birth positions, there is still a widespread lack of awareness, especially among men.

Christabel Wesonga, Director of Maternal and Child Health Services at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi says the involvement of men in this critical area of ​​family life is important. She explores the benefits and perceptions of male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth.

What is Lamaze Birth Technique?

It is a birth preparation technique based on a proven scientific method, the purpose of which is to provide a positive experience for expectant couples. It focuses on birth as a natural event. It involves rhythmic breathing exercises that reduce heart rate, anxiety and pain perception during childbirth.

It is a variation of natural birth, where the birth and the birth are without medical intervention; no medication is given to relieve pain or help with the birth process. It builds trust, learns coping mechanisms and essentially serves as an alternative to medical intervention.

Lamaze emphasizes safe and healthy pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood through evidence-based education and advocacy. It is important to clarify that the method neither encourages nor discourages the use of medication during labor and birth.

Is Lamaze an alternative to hospital delivery?

No. It is simply a birth control technique, no matter what delivery method you want to use – either normal or cesarean section. Anyone who wants home delivery will benefit even more from this technique due to the limited availability of birth support systems at home.

Why is it important for men to attend Lamaze classes with their expectant wives?

Male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth is very important. Ideally, both husband and wife should attend the Lamaze classes together. This especially helps the husband to stay involved during pregnancy and childbirth and to continue to support the wife and the newborn.

In this technique, a mother learns about the anatomy and physiology of childbirth and practices pain management through relaxation, massage, and breathing exercises.

Research has shown that it affects pregnancy outcomes, reduces negative maternal health behaviors for women, minimizes the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, fetal growth restriction, and infant mortality.

There is scientific evidence that by providing emotional, logistical and financial support, male involvement reduces mothers’ stress, increases the intake of prenatal care and leads to the cessation of risky behaviors – such as smoking and drinking. It also increases men’s commitment to their future parenting roles from an early stage.

What are men taught in a Lamaze class?

By attending the Lamaze classes, the man is empowered to be available – present, available and a team player as well as responsible – concerned, maintains the relationship with the woman and is a caregiver, provider or protector.

The classes also help the expectant father to want to be engaged – to take care of the pregnancy and the future child, want to be involved and be supported by the health system to perform its roles.

What are some of the perceptions or fears men have about Lamaze?

In the African context, men were not allowed to be involved in childbirth – it was a taboo.

Although this has changed and more men are easily involved in helping their partners during pregnancy and after childbirth, the traditional view still has great influence in some communities. As such, some might see Lamaze as a counterculture.

The second view is that the technique is only about delivery and therefore has no room for the man. In addition, some men will generally be hesitant to be present, especially during childbirth and even in the first days after birth, when mother and child need support. Traditionally, it was the role of women.

What factors can prevent men from being involved in childbirth?

In recent years, there have generally been conscious efforts to promote men’s involvement in maternal and child health. However, involvement is still low. In particular, patriarchal societal values ​​and norms that influence gender roles have partially hindered male involvement in mother and child care.

Men’s participation in maternal and child health is affected by several factors stemming from society and health institutions.

Involving men in the health of the mother and child is crucial, and therefore participatory and comprehensive approaches should be used to promote participation at all levels. Community awareness is fundamental to raising awareness of the importance of male involvement.

So what can be done to increase men’s participation in Lamaze classes?

There is a need to have workable strategies to invite men to participate in maternal health care at the health institution, family and community level. However, the pairing strategy is most effective, but it is mostly used by educated city dwellers.

Using a male-peer strategy is also effective and sustainable at the societal level. Overall, there is a need to create awareness among men so that they maintain their participation in their female partners’ maternal health activities, even in the absence of incentives, coercion or invitations.

Does the AKUH have a Lamaze policy that supports men’s involvement in maternal and child health?

AKUH has fully embraced the technology and offers Lamaze classes. We encourage both mom and dad to attend classes to learn together.

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