Preparation for Labor: A Historical Perspective

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A historical analysis of the literature pertaining to psychoprophylaxis demonstrates that contemporary treatment methods have diverse and complex origins. Although many training manuals are presented as outlines of the “Lamaze” method, historical evidence indicates that Grantly Dick-Read (Natural Childbirth. London, Heinemann, 1933; Childbirth Without Fear. New York, Harper and Brothers, 1944), an English obstetrician, made the most substantive contributions to this area. Although Fernand Lamaze is generally regarded as the pre-eminent authority on psychoprophylaxis, a comparison of his 1958 text with the original Soviet source (I. Velvovsky et al., (Eds.), Painless Childbirth Through Psychoprophylaxis, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publ. House, 1960) demonstrates that he deleted and modified substantial portions of the treatment regimen and failed to keep abreast of developments in Soviet theory. Neither Dick-Read, Velvovsky et al. or Lamaze (Painless Childbirth. London, Burke, 1958) present data which permit cause and effect conclusions regarding treatment and outcome. By the same token, none of these authors demonstrated interest in the empirical validation of their theories regarding pain, anxiety, or fear reduction.

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