For most women, pregnancy is the first time we consciously take note of our breath. Let’s discover how we should breathe, why breath is important and the benefits proper breathing techniques hold, not just for pregnancy, but also during labour.
Breathing is absolutely free – so use it to your advantage. Practicing good breathing techniques will aide in relaxation while taking your mind off the pain, discomfort and strain your body is experiencing.
In Yoga, we call breath work “Pranayama” – which directly translated means extending the control of a life force (breath). We consciously make a decision to still our minds and focus on the breath, feeding the body with all the fresh air we could possibly desire. We breathe life into our bellies, which nourishes our baby, and engage our abdominals, diaphragm and ribs strengthening our muscles which contributes to a healthy posture while our babies grow. The exhale of breath naturally relaxes the body, which helps keep mommy calm – and if mommy is calm, baby is calm.
During labour, and especially between those contractions, breathing consciously can help keep your blood pressure and heart rate regulated which allows you to stay in parasympathetic or relaxed mode.
Let’s try Ujjaji breath (Three – step breath). When done properly, Ujjaji breath should be both relaxing and energizing.
To do this, we will focus on breathing in and out, slowly, though our nose. Controlling the intake, as well as the out flow, of air. We breathe in to our chest, deeper into our belly and then finally we fill up all the open spaces between the ribs, in to the back and down into the pelvic floor. Holding the breath for just a beat then slowly we expel the air through the nose, feeling it escape back into the atmosphere. You repeat this until you feel your heart rate slowing down and your dopamine levels rising. You should feel revitalized and at ease.
Written By: Simoné Van Der Merwe
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