BREATHING: EXPLORE, TEACH, & PRACTICE, practice, practice, practice, practice

  • Posted on April 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Conscious breathing has always been the basis for dealing with labor pain. There are a number of different birthing strategies that are taught now, and they all base their techniques on breathing, whether it is for relaxation, concentration, distraction, meditation or hypnotic effect.  Holding one’s breath is a typical reaction to pain, anticipated pain and sometimes stress. Rhythmic breath promotes concentration, relaxation and promotes pain relief.  However, during the process of birth’s variations and challenges, these benefits of breathing are best utilized if the breathing is well understood and comes easily to you and your support people. Without the ability to just move into a practiced behavior, you can become confused, ineffective at pain relief and possibly more stressed.

Women who practice a variety of breathing techniques and patterns to a level of high comfort and conditioning will benefit best from any breathing. What breathing looks like and how many different types of breath are used is far less important than you having a repertoire of practiced, breath-related coping skills to draw upon during birth. The best Lamaze class includes the exposure and in-class practice of a number of different styles of breathing. These types of breathing should include deep, slow and shallow, fast styles. The uses and benefits should be explored and at-home trial and practice insisted upon. In order to utilize these technique under the stress of labor, you need to condition yourself through practice, so you can comfortably move from one to another if needed through the course of birth.

So many childbirth classes of today overshadow the calming skills, including breathing, with discussion of medical procedures and complications of birth. No time is left for the real teaching and practice of coping techniques. A quality Lamaze class will teach and support practice of progressive breathing styles  during a series of at least 5 sessions.  You and your support person will learn, try out at home and return to class to reinforce all styles so as to select those to continue to practice for your own labor. With this level of emphasis, hopefully you will commit to practice, knowing it will make a better birth outcome.

I have gained my own selection of breathing styles to teach, through the practice and study of many different disciplines. I utilize breath techniques from my training from Lamaze, hypnosis, yoga, meditation/relaxation and more . Breathing does not stand alone as a labor coping skill. It is, however, the basis of and promotes the benefits of all others.  If you have the opportunity to explore breathing for labor, you should adopt a variety and practice them until you can execute them comfortably without much concentration. They will serve you well in labor.

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