Author: Paula A. Michaels
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Advocated as the oldest, most natural method of childbirth, Lamaze is a practice involving breathing techniques that help a woman work through contractions (psychoprophylaxis). It has been omnipresent in American culture since the 1970s, advocated by the medical community and mothers alike. While it would seem that it emerged from the back-to-the-earth culture of the 1960s and 1970s, Paula Michaels in this book reveals a shocking history: the Lamaze method was actually invented in the Cold War Soviet Union. Michaels discovers that a French obstetrician, Fernand Lamaze, saw the technique being used in Russia in the 1950s and brought it back to his maternity ward in Paris. In order to make the method more appealing to Americans, early U.S. advocates hid its Soviet origins and were able to spread it as a grassroots movement. This work involving multiple languages and archives in a range of nations promises to be eye-opening for scholars, the medical community, and general readers alike. In setting the practice of Lamaze into its context, it will shed light on the history of medicine, the history of feminism, and Cold War history.