Labor and Birth Breathing Practices


Labor and Birth: Yogic Breathing

Everyone has watched a scene in their favorite sitcom or film of a woman giving birth. We see her face filled with panic, hair stuck to the sweat on her brow, and her breathing shallow and quick. She struggles with the pain, and someone, either the dashing doctor or loving husband, tells her to breathe. But why is breath so important during the labor and birth process?

Why Is Breath Important to Labor and Birth?

All of life builds from breath. Nothing matters more than getting oxygen to your lungs and into your bloodstream. Everyone knows you survive for days without water and weeks without food, but most people cannot survive more than a few minutes without oxygen. But breathing does more than just keep you alive during the labor and birth process. When done properly, breathing regulates your pain, maintains your focus, and lessens the time between your contractions.

How We Breathe Affects How We Feel

Fast Shallow Breathing

When you breathe shallow and through the mouth, your body activates the “fight or flight” response in your nervous system. This can increase adrenaline, cause anxiety and induce hyperventilation, all of which will decrease the amount of oxygen you and your child receive. The lack of oxygen will exhaust you sooner, and increased adrenaline has been linked to the decrease of a hormone known as oxytocin that induces contractions. The decrease in oxytocin can space out contractions and prolong the labor and birth process.

Deep Yogic Breathing

Deep breathing through the diaphragm can help you manage pain by relaxing your muscles and reducing the amount of stress hormones in your bloodstream. Yogic breathing starts with long inhales that start from the diaphragm. If your abdomen expands and contracts, then you are likely performing deep yogic breathing. Focusing on this form of breathing will distract you from some of the pain, help you manage the rest of your pain, increase your focus, and prevent hyperventilation and fatigue.

Though not always easy to fit into a busy schedule, regular yogic practice can help you establish a rhythm with your breathing. A certified nurse midwife at Missouri Midwifery will help you regulate your breathing throughout your labor and birth, but practicing yoga during your pregnancy gives you experience breathing deeply and relaxing while using certain muscles. This practice is invaluable during labor when you need to be both relaxed and pushing with strength.

Labor and Birth at Missouri Midwifery

We are a team of medical professionals that believe in the importance and value of natural birth.  If you have any questions or concerns or interests in the natural labor and birth process, do not hesitate to contact Missouri Midwifery today. A certified nurse midwife will happily answer any of your questions.

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