Elisabeth Bing Dies at 100: 5 Facts About 'Mother of Lamaze'

By Rachel, Parent Herald May 19, 06:00 am

The woman who revolutionized natural childbirth by encouraging the Lamaze technique at hospitals in the United States died last Friday, May 15, in her Manhattan home. She dedicated herself to teaching and influencing a lot of pregnant women on natural childbirth, which she termed as "educated childbirth," for more than half her life. She was 100 years old.

Here are five things you should know about Elisabeth Bing, the "Mother of Lamaze:"

1.       Her crusade started when she found that hospitals were too "cold and impersonal" for women going through labor, according to New York Times. These women have been heavily sedated, while their husbands paced outside the labor room, waiting to hear word about the birth. So, Bing decided to change things and started working with obstetricians by introducing the Lamaze technique.

2.       The Lamaze technique was pioneered by Dr. Fernand Lamaze from France but it was first observed in action in Russia, according to Inquisitr. The method incorporates breathing and relaxation techniques, exercises and classes about childbirth. It also encourages support from the rest of the family members. Through this, Bing set up Lamaze International along with Marjorie Kamel in the United States.

3.       As she grew famous for her revolutionary drive, the mother of Lamaze wrote a book, "Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth," which was published in 1967. It was to supplement the teachings of the method. She also did the rounds in television, championing Lamaze to the masses and providing more education to women about preparedness during childbirth.

4.       Adapting Lamaze in the United States did not happen quickly, however, as Bing said once, 
"I remember well how I was told that, surely, this was all a fad, that women would soon forget and that ideas as strange as encouraging a woman to be awake and aware while giving birth were beyond all rational thinking." Nonetheless, her organization continued to provide child-birthing classes in hospitals and in her Upper West Side residence. Today, the Lamaze method is a preferred method by many pregnant mothers and even hospitals encourage it.

5.       Despite her advocacy, Bing does not consider her contribution as a remarkable legacy in obstetrics. She said that all she wanted was to make the experience of childbirth manageable for many women, allowing them to make informed choices. She also wanted the mothers to be "awake and alert" as they give birth, as such a transformative event would have been missed if they were heavily sedated.

Back in 2000, Bing, then 85, talked about childbirth with New York Times. She said, "It's an experience that never leaves you. It needs absolute concentration; it takes up your whole being. And you learn to use your body correctly in a situation of stress."

Her son, Peter, said that the Bing died in peace.

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