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The History of Lamaze Continues: An Interview with Sunnye Strickland

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Although the most publicized beginnings of the Lamaze method in this country took place in the New York City area in the 1950s and 1960s, change was taking place even earlier in other parts of the United States as well, for women everywhere were eager to be educated and awake for their birth experiences. One of the early leaders of the “natural childbirth movement” in Colorado, Wyoming, and Oklahoma from the late 1940s through the early 1960s was Sunnye Strickland. Strickland began her career as a labor and delivery nurse, became a devoted advocate of prepared childbirth as a result of her own birth experiences, and embraced the philosophy of the psychoprophylactic method after visiting Dr. Pierre Vellay in Paris. She then became a faculty member with the American Society of Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO/Lamaze, now Lamaze International, Inc.) and eventually a certified nurse-midwife. Her professional story spans five states, several countries, and 46 years, with a rich variety of experiences in which she was a change agent, educator, and active leader in the childbirth education movement.

Keywords: Lamaze method; natural childbirth; prepared childbirth; psychoprophylactic method

Document Type: Standard Article


Affiliations: ELAINE ZWELLING is a senior consultant with Phillips & Fenwick, a member of the advisory board of the Pampers Parenting Institute, and director of the Lamaze International Childbirth Educator Program in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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