Elisabeth Dorothea Bing

8 Jul 1914
15 May 2015
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Elisabeth Dorothea Bing ( 8 July 1914 – 15 May 2015) was a German physical therapist, co-founder of Lamaze International, and proponent of natural childbirth. She trained as a physical therapist in England after fleeing Nazi Germany due to her Jewish ancestry. Her hospital work there made her interested in natural childbirth, and she taught it to parents in the United States after she moved there in 1949. To promote natural childbirth methods, she co-founded the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (now Lamaze International), gave several TV and radio appearances, and wrote several books on the subject. She became known as the “mother” of the Lamaze method in the United States.

In 1949, Bing moved to Jacksonville, Illinois, in the United States, at the invitation of her sister. It was here that she first got the chance to teach natural childbirth methods, after being invited by an obstetrician she met at a house party. She coached all of the obstetrician’s patients in natural childbirth, learning while she taught. After a year of this, she decided to go back to England. However, as she passed through New York, she met her husband, Fred Max Bing, and decided to remain there. They married in 1951.

Bing continued to teach natural childbirth methods in New York, and in 1951 she was invited by Dr. Alan Guttmacher to teach at Mount Sinai Hospital, which had just opened its first maternity ward.It was here that she heard about the psychoprophylactic method of childbirth developed by Dr. Fernand Lamaze. Lamaze’s method incorporated breathing techniques as well as the natural childbirth techniques developed by Read.Mount Sinai Hospital cound not afford to send Bing to France to learn the method from Lamaze,but she met Marjorie Karmel, who had published the book Thank You, Dr. Lamaze, in 1959. Karmel had learned the method directly from Lamaze in Paris, and she in turn taught it to Bing. In 1960, the two went on to found the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, now known as Lamaze International.

Bing was an advocate the importance of mothers making informed childbirth decisions. As well as educating parents about childbirth, she worked with obstetricians to introduce them to natural childbirth methods. She also wrote articles; appeared on TV and radio shows, including shows hosted by Barbara Walters and Phil Donahue; and wrote several books, including Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth.She became known as the “mother” of Lamaze among the American public.

Bing died at the age of 100 in her New York apartment in May 2015. She was survived by her son, Peter.

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