The “mother of Lamaze,” Elisabeth Bing, died at 100 this week. If took birth prep classes before your baby was born, had your partner in the delivery room, or even had a natural childbirth, you have Bing and her colleagues to thank.
“They called me the crazy lady from New York,” Elisabeth Bing explains in a video from Lamaze International, an advocacy organization. But in the mid-20th century, when many laboring mothers were strapped down and drugged during childbirth, and husbands banished to waiting rooms, Bing led a woman-centric revolution in obstetrics that still reverberates today.
Ms. Bing taught women and their spouses to make informed childbirth choices for more than 50 years. (“We don’t call it natural childbirth, but educated childbirth,” she once said.)
She began her crusade at a time when hospital rooms were often cold and impersonal, women in labor were heavily sedated and men were expected to remain in the waiting room, pacing.
Ms. Bing pushed for change. She worked directly with obstetricians, introducing them to the so-called natural childbirth methods developed by Dr. Fernand Lamaze, which incorporated relaxation techniques in lieu of anesthesia and enabled a mother to see her child coming into the world.
The Times obit also details that while Bing was an advocate for women to be more empowered during childbirth, she “preferred the term ‘prepared childbirth’ to ‘natural childbirth’ because, she said, her goal was not to eschew drugs altogether but to empower women to make informed decisions.”
“I hope I have made women aware that they have choices, they can get to know their body and trust their body,” Bing said of her life’s work.
We are so grateful.