It was with great sadness that the Lamaze board, staff, and organization members learned last week of Dr. Marshall Klaus' death. Dr. Klaus passed away on August 15th, 2017 at the age of 90, at his home near San Francisco, California. Dr. Klaus, a famed neonatologist and researcher, has made his mark on two of Lamaze International's Healthy Birth Practices. The influence of his life's work on HBP #3 – Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support and HBP #6 – Keep mother and baby together, it's best for mother, baby and breastfeeding has been monumental.
Dr. Klaus is the author of many books including Bonding, Care of the High Risk Newborn, and Mothering the Mother, and a multitude of journal articles and research papers. Much of his work has been translated into many other languages. Dr. Marshall Klaus, along with his friend and colleague Dr. John Kennell, brought the concept of mother-baby bonding to the public. Dr. Klaus explored the early thoughts of welcoming families into special care nurseries and keeping mothers and babies together on the postpartum units. He insisted that parents have access to their newborns in the NICU. He normalized the concept of families staying together and did early research on supporting families who had lost a baby.
In 1992, Dr. Klaus, along with Penny Simkin, John Kennell, Phyllis Klaus and Annie Kennedy founded DONA International. Through his and the other founders' leadership, DONA has grown into the world's largest and most respected doula organization.
Any mother that has reached down to receive their just born child into their arms has the work of Drs. Klaus and Kennell to thank. Dr. Kennell and Dr. Klaus have inspired and supported countless caregivers and parents committed to strong, connected families. Their impact and the results of their life's work is felt every time a baby is born into the arms of their parent. Their work helped influence the creation of UNICEF's 1991 Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a goal that is strived for by hospitals all around the world.
Marshall Klaus' life's work has always been to bring compassion, care, and sensitivity to families during the most vulnerable period of their lives. He worked to protect the bond between the newborn and their parent, to offer physical and emotional support to laboring families and the same support through skilled care during the postpartum period. Every baby born in a hospital today benefits from Dr. Klaus' research, whether they are born healthy and strong or need additional neonatal care.
Both professionals and families have nothing but the deepest gratitude for his work, his vision, and all that he has created. His spirit will live on with every baby that enters this world! Our sincere sympathies go out to his wife and collaborator, Phyllis Klaus, their children, family, and friends. The world has been changed for the better because of his work and we will be forever grateful.
Photo credit: DONA International