Pregnancy is said to be a very important phase in a woman’s life. Though it is a stage full of excitement often there are many fears and anxiety, the biggest being ‘Labour”. Labour management seems to a very difficult task. If you or someone close to you is a mom-to-be, you can try or ask them to try these labour management techniques.
Such techniques can help pregnant women in a lot of ways, as they not just help you relax but go a long way in pain relief during labour. Though it is very normal to feel nervous and apprehensive during ongoing labour, the right breathing during labour can make a lot of difference.
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Importance of Breathing Techniques During Labour
You need to understand and accept the fact that labour is going to be painful. Once you accept it, your mind will start to find ways on how to make the entire experience easy and bearable. Right breathing during labour is considered to be so important as when you breathe rhythmically, it increases the availability of oxygen in your body. But when you are in panic or in fear, you breathe fast, this will make you get tired very soon. You need to conserve your energy. Slow breathing during labour also makes you feel calm and relaxed which is very essential for a stress-free labour. During labour, or any other painful event, we tend to tighten up our muscles, this further increases our pain and discomfort. Let us see how the relaxation and breathing exercise during pregnancy help in providing pain relief during labour.
Preparation for Relaxation and Breathing Techniques for Birth
When you are expecting, it's better that you start learning and practising for the preparation for breathing techniques for birth. Don’t forget to take the advice of your doctor before you start anything new. Once he gives you a go, then set a routine and start with labour management techniques. As you learn and master these Relaxation and Breathing Techniques for labour management, gradually move from a quiet environment to a comparatively noisy room. Try relaxing while sitting, moving around in a car, watching a movie etc.
1. Get into a distraction-free and quiet place, dim the lights and lie in a comfortable position.
2. Lie down with your joints slightly bent.
3. Just lay quietly and try to relax, don’t think of anything, you may listen to some instrumental music.
4. Breathe slowly, you may chant Om or simply count, as you breathe out.
Get into this routine, as you progress with the relaxation and breathing techniques during labour, you will be able to relax and breathe properly.
Relaxation Techniques for Labour Management
Relaxation techniques work very well when you are tensed. But in labour your mind and body are too nervous, and it would take a strong mind to help you relax properly, therefore you need to start practising from your first trimester only.
1. Progressive Relaxation
Try and focus on just one part of your body and try to relax your whole body. Let us try with your left hand first. Start by clenching your fist tightly. Hold for 5-6 seconds then slowly while breathing out, release your hand. Gradually progress to other parts of the body.
2. Touch Relaxation
You need a partner to help you with Touch relaxation. Tense a body part for 5-6 seconds and then ask your partner to gently touch that area and slowly apply some pressure. This will help in calming that body part down.
A soft and gentle massage during the early stage of labour can help you feel calm and relaxed. It also helps in pain relief during labour.
4. Relaxing Thoughts
This relaxation technique can be done in all stages of labour. Just observe your body and try and concentrate on the parts that feel the most tensed. Slowly let go of those tensions mentally and feel pain-free.
Breathing Techniques for Labour Management
The most recommended breathing techniques for birth include pattern breathing. It helps to handle your body better. Our body responds to our emotional state, in fear or anxiety we tend to breathe faster. So, for mastering breathing techniques for labour management, you need to begin with the practices as soon as possible, preferably during the first few months of pregnancy itself. If you can start breathing exercise during pregnancy, after consulting your doctor, they can prove very beneficial at the time of labour as well.
1. Relaxed Breathing
Generally recommended for early stages of labour relaxed breathing is also called slow paced breathing. Try to breathe slowly and without putting in too much effort. Keep your or your partner’s hand on your chest and breathe in through your nose. Keeping the hand there only, slowly breathe out. You will feel better if while breathing out you close your eyes and relax.
2. Greeting Breathing
Take a deep breath. Combine taking the breath with stretching of your body. Then as you breathe out, return to the starting position. Greeting Breathing allows expansion of your lungs, and so it’s also called cleansing breath. You may do this kind if breathing at the beginning and at the end of a contraction.
3. Counted Breathing
Counted breathing is said to be the best breathing techniques for labour. In this simple method of breathing just count as you breathe. Start to count as you inhale through your nose and start the count again as you breathe out. When you breathe out try and have an increased count, for instance if you breathed in 3 counts, breathe out in 4.
4. Nose and Mouth Breathing
Considered to be one of the easiest yet helpful way, nose and mouth breathing. You take a deep breath through your nose, hold for a second and then exhale through your mouth. It may prove soothing if you make an ‘oooooh’ or an ‘ahhhhhh’ as you breathe out. This is too one of the best breathing techniques for labour.
5. Upper Chest Breathing
For an advanced stage of labour when you may no longer be able to do relaxed breathing, and are neither able to walk around, try upper chest breathing. You need to breathe between your mouth and the bust line. Keep your tongue behind your lower teeth and open your mouth a little to exhale.
6. Transition Breathing
The Transition breathing is also for stages where slow breathing isn't possible for you anymore. You need to part your lips, more as if you are smiling and then try to breathe in and out. You can do this sitting or while laying too.
During the second stage of labour while breathing you might feel a strong urge to push, but do not do so until you reach the final stage and of labour and your doctor tells you to push. Just try to be calm and relax. Also while in labour take small sips of water or bite on ice between your contractions. This helps in the keeping the mouth from drying.
These relaxation and breathing techniques for birth can prove very useful in labour management and lead to pain relief during labour. Don’t forget to speak to your doctor before you start practising them. She can help and guide you in refining and practising the breathing exercise during pregnancy and labour.