We are celebrating our group prenatal class with the ABCs of prenatal classes. From A to Z let’s cover some common prenatal terms, B is for Breathing, and what you can learn about them from our class.
In through your nose, out through your mouth. Sounds simple enough!
When I hear about breath during labor I think of the hee-hee-hoo sounds of television Lamaze classes but maybe I am dating myself. While breathing techniques have changed, the concepts remain the same.
Breathing is a multi-purpose tool that can help with relaxation, pain relief and focus. Associating exhalation with relaxation can help counteract tension and, importantly as a labor coping technique, slow breathing can change your perception of pain. While the sensations of labor may be out of your control, your breath is not.
Everyone uses their breath as a natural coping technique during labor. But sometimes people use their breath in a way that is counterproductive. Holding your breath or shallow panicky breaths can feed into the fear-tension-pain cycle and make labor sensations harder to handle, not to mention that lacking oxygen isn’t good for anyone. Practicing breathing techniques in a class is a good way to prevent this cycle.
Regardless of your plans for pain medication, breathing techniques are useful in ALL aspects of labor: early labor, getting an epidural placed, working through anxieties and even surgical births. Learning and practicing breathing techniques ahead of time is good for your well-being and may serve you in other parenting situations, boundary-testing toddler I am looking at you!
What we will explore about breath in our prenatal class
Simple breathing techniques: abdominal breathing, making sounds with your breath, different kinds of breaths, breathing during pushing
Ways to practice your breathing techniques
Breathing during a Cesarean birth
Interesting facts about breathing
Breathing affects brain waves and activates the parasympathetic nervous system causing a relaxation response. There is a lot of science to support this and different theories as to why this might be. Whatever the mechanism, breathing is an easy way to tap into your mind. Harness it!
We call them breathing techniques and scientists call it “consciously controlled changes in respiratory behavior.” Tomato, tomahto.