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Mastering Breathing Techniques for Birth

Breathing effortlessly, an innate function of our bodies, often goes unnoticed in our daily lives. Yet, in moments as crucial as childbirth, breathing consciously and purposely is going to support you in many ways. In my HypnoBirthing classes, I teach you the art of mastering breathing techniques for birth.


Why (re)learning to breathe for birth is so important?


A woman is in pain while giving birth

In childbirth, we often hear the word 'push' and that’s exactly what a woman in labor shouldn’t do (unless there is a medical reason for it). Pushing often leads to breath-holding and muscle tension, disrupting the body's natural expulsive reflex. By using the right breathing techniques, birthing mums can support their body's natural processes.


Effective breathing techniques have many benefits:

A pregnant woman looks very relaxed and focused
  • optimize oxygenation

  • can help reducing the length of labor

  • reduce the likelihood of significant tears

  • promote relaxation

  • enhance body awareness

  • aid pain management

  • foster a sense of empowerment

  • reduce the fatigue


There are different ways to breathe. Are you breathing through the nose? Through the mouth? With your rib cage? Then there are breathing patterns (i.e. inhale count to 4, exhale count to 8). That’s more the rhythm and energy you give to your breath flow. These will be different depending on the stage of labor.

 

How can I breathe properly for childbirth?


Let's do a small exercise together! Place your hands on your belly, each time you inhale, imagine you inflate and deflate a balloon inside your belly with each inhale and exhale. close your eyes and place your awareness on your pelvic floor. Repeat each breathing technique 5 times:

1-       breath in and out through the nose ;

2-      breath in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth as if you were blowing in a large bubble tea straw ;

3-      breath in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth as if you were blowing in a tiny straw.


A woman in labor breathes and looks relaxed

Can you feel the pelvic floor relaxed when you breathe through the nose only? Can you feel abs and pelvic floor starting to engage when you breathe out through the mouth? Can you feel you have to use your abdominal muscles to push the air out when you imagine the tiny straw? That tells you what type of breathing techniques you want to use when you give birth or when you exercise. And they are not the same!


Before teaching any breathing patterns, I always use this exercise to experience the difference. In childbirth, all you want to achieve is a relaxed lower body. Through understanding, practice, and mindfulness, expectant parents can harness the power of their breath to navigate labor with confidence and ease.

 

 

Sources and References:

'Effect of Breathing Technique of Blowing on the Extent of Damage to the Perineum at the Moment of Delivery: A Randomized Clinical Trial' 2017 Jan-Feb; 22(1): 62–66,  doi: 10.4103/1735-9066.202071 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364755/
'The Body in Birth - Three Breathing Techniques to Decrease Pelvic Floor Injury during Birth', by: Ken McGee, PT, DPT https://www.lamaze.org/Connecting-the-Dots/Post/series-the-body-in-birth-three-breathing-techniques-to-decrease-pelvic-floor-injury-during-birth-1

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