Elisabeth Bing, credited for bringing Dr. Fernand Lamaze’s childbirth techniques to American women, has died at age 100 in New York.
The Lamaze method emphasized relaxation during childbirth, and posited that a mother’s pain during giving birth stemmed from fear. Having studied natural childbirth since 1942, Bing first encountered Lamaze’s technique in the 1950s. In 1960, she and a colleague founded Lamaze International, then known as the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics.
It’s estimated that 25% of expectant mothers and spouses attend a Lamaze class at some point during pregnancy. For context, almost 4M babies were born in 2010. This would put the number of Lamaze-attending parents-to-be around 1M. (But this wouldn’t be completely accurate because it assumes that every mother only gave birth to one child.)
Bing’s goal was to help empower women to make their own decisions regarding how childbirth would go for them, and she certainly achieved that.
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Another pioneer in bringing Lamaze to the United States more specifically Detroit passed coincidently on the same day.
Flora Suhd Hommel dies at age 87.
Her daughter writes:
“If the name Lamaze means “painless childbirth” to you, it is because Flora brought the method home to Detroit, the region and (along with Marjorie Karmel and Elisabeth Bing in New York) to the US, starting in 1958.
In addition to being the founder of the Detroit-based Childbirth Without Pain Education Association (CWPEA), Flora’s work touched on so many areas… Health, women, city politics, world politics. She was a civil rights activist alongside George Crockett, Ernie Goodman, Dr. Charles Wright; proud to have translated for Paul Robeson in France; a fighter for women’s rights and equality alongside Erma Henderson, Claudia Morcom, and many others; demonstrated against the French war in Indochina while in Paris and the US war against Vietnam back home. She served as a city public health commissioner and fought for universal health care; served on the national board of Gray Panthers, and more”.