MENTAL PREPARATION- BIRTH BREATHING
We’ll practice this breathing technique most weeks in class but I thought it might be useful to have a written guideline as well.
The purpose of the breathing exercise is to mentally prepare you for the contractions in the first stage of labour. This is when the cervix opens.
Being deeply relaxed, mentally and physically enables the cervix to open quicker and easier.
It takes practice to stay relaxed during intense contractions, so the more you can practice this breathing technique the more effective it will be in labour.
Before you begin make sure you’re sitting or lying comfortably and with good posture. Take a few moments to let go of the comings and goings of your day and to allow your body to relax.
Creating your special place
Each time we do the exercise you’ll go back to your special place. It’s a place where you feel Safe and Calm and Relaxed.
After regular practice you will have trained yourself to fell Safe and Calm and Relaxed as soon as you visualize your special place.
Your special place is ideally somewhere in nature. It can be a real place for example somewhere you visited on holiday where you felt a sense of peace. Or it can be complete fantasy, a wonderful place that you create yourself. Of course it can be a mixture of the two.
Add as many details as possible, smells, sounds, the feeling of the sun or breeze on your skin for example.
The most important thing is that its somewhere you feel Safe and Calm and Relaxed.
While you’re having contractions you’ll visit this place where you have trained yourself to feel Safe and Calm and Relaxed.
Then you add in the breathing.
Each time you breathe in -through the nose-imagine that along with the oxygen you’re taking in a sense of wisdom, power, energy and strength. If these words don’t work for you then change them. You need to choose words that create a feeling.
As you breath out – through the mouth, making a sighing sound-imagine that along with releasing the breath you’re also letting go of any tension, mental or physical. Let go of any pain or discomfort. Create a sense of softness in your body and mind.
Allow you whole pelvic area to be soft open and relaxed.
As the intensity of the contractions increase let the sighing sound get louder. Towards the end of the first stage you the noises will get quite loud, this will really help.
In between contractions your labour will be pain free and you can just breathe normally. At times you will feel like keeping you eyes closed and staying focused on your breath. This will help you stay in the right frame of mind to deal with the next contraction.
Benefits of birth breathing
- The hormonal process which keeps the labour going and the contractions coming work best if you’re relaxed.
- You’ll be able to stay in control during labour.
- No or decreased need for pain relief.
- Decreased need for intervention.
- Events such as transferring to hospital or change of midwife can slow labour down. The technique will help to lessen the effect.
- A relaxed birth is more enjoyable.
I also hire out a few things, which will help in labour
These are great during pregnancy to help you get comfortable and to relieve back pain. They are also invaluable for keeping you comfortable in key active birth positions during labour. These are extra strong, anti burst balls. You can hire them from any point in your pregnancy and give it back when you’re ready after you’ve had your baby.
Contains a selection of essential oils, herbs, rescue remedy and a full homeopathic kit to provide natural pain relief.
Birth Plan Ideas
Its important to communicate your wishes through your birth plan as labour may be a time when you wont be able to think or speak so clearly.
Instead of writing a list of do’s and don’ts I think its much more beneficial to try to give an idea of the experience you want.
Its this calm, relaxed atmosphere that we’ve talked about that will result in a lack of any need for interventions so that’s the most important thing to get established.
So I suggest you write something similar to what I’ve written below and add it to your notes. It’s a good idea to have two copies, one for the front of your notes and one for the birth plan.
‘Thank you for being part of our baby’s birth. We’re very excited.
This is my partner and advocate………
We are hoping and have prepared for a natural, positive and peaceful birth.
We are planning to use breathing techniques and …. to support us.
We would really appreciate you facilitating us in creating a quiet and peaceful atmosphere until an hour after delivery.
If this situation changes could you please discuss benefits, risks and alternatives of intervention to help make us make an informed choice.
Please do not offer pain relief, we will ask if we want it.
Things to consider:
- Third stage
- Vit k injection
There is huge emphasis in our society on the pain of labour and the majority of women approach labour with some level of anxiety as to how they will be able to handle it. This anxiety is not surprising really, its so deeply ingrained in our culture, dating back to Eves punishment for her original sin and so often depicted as traumatic in our media and with so many women having their own real life horror stories.
However with the right preparation and with a normal birth the pain is absolutely manageable. I would go as far as to say that it is through dealing with the pain that we get into this very special, meditive state that it so very special. Through using the breathing I began to experience the pain as pure sensation, neither good nor bad, utterly intense, so intense that I was lifted out of myself and into a meditive state. I’ve read about this state being called “labourland” which I think describes it very well. At times during my labour I felt truly blissful and filled with an amazing sense of power.
Understanding the pain
- The stress hormones produced in response to labour pain helps protect your baby against hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) during labour, as well as preparing its lungs for breathing after it’s born.
- Pain guides the mother. Commonly, the positions and activities she chooses for comfort are also those that promote good labour process or help shift the baby into the right position for birth. Remove the pain and you remove that feed back mechanism.
- Removing pain also severs other feed back loops vital to normal labour and birth. Nerves in the cervix, and later the pelvic floor muscles and vagina transmit stretching sensations as well as pain. The stretch receptors signal the pituitary to produce more oxytocin, which increases the tempo of the labour, causing further cervical dilation and the urge to push. Numb the nerves with an epidural and you also wipe out the feed back mechanism.
- Endorphins will be released throughout the labour with pain relieving effects ten times that of morphine. They also elevate your mood and help take you into that dream state of labourland.
Do what you can in pregnancy
- Stay fit. Labour is hard work.
- Practice yoga. Prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. Encourage baby into correct position.
- Practice breathing techniques. Relaxation is key.
- Drink raspberry leaf tea. Strengthen uterus.
- Familiarise yourself with birthing positions
- Pelvic floor!
Be intuitive about what you choose. Look at different benefits such as stress relieving or uplifting. I have a Birth Kit full of helpful goodies you can rent for the month of your due date.
Drugs in Labour
Be informed. All the available drugs cross the placenta so its important that you know what your taking.