There’s a reason it’s called labour – having a baby is hard work! Now the very thought of labour can be daunting for many women, especially if it’s your first time around. Yes, there’s probably no way to sugarcoat it – it IS likely to be painful. Yoga and meditation also focuses on developing breathing patterns for you, to ease your delivery pain. Reach out to any of Urban Company’s yoga instructors to understand what’s best for you. And with a few breathing and relaxation techniques up your sleeve, you can ease the pain and exhaustion during delivery:
Patterned breathing can help take your mind off the pain of contractions and provide a sense of control and well-being.
For the first stage of labour
Start off with light breathing
Inhale deeply through your nose as soon as contractions start and then let your body go limp, releasing all tension as you exhale from your mouth. Repeat a few times, making sure you’re relaxing all muscles as you go long.
To make this exercise easier, think the word “relax”, dividing it up into two syllables, “re” and “lax”. As you breathe in, think “re” and when you breathe out, think “laaaaax”. Keep your mind focused on repeating the word “relax” in tune with your breathing.
When you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, Keep your mouth very soft as you sigh the breath out. Some women find it helpful to say ”oooooooh” or ”aaaaaah” when exhaling.
Count your breaths
As you breathe in, count slowly up to 3 or 4 and as you exhale, count to three or four again. You may find that it’s more comfortable to inhale to a count of three and exhale to a count of four.
As contractions intensify
Accelerate your breathing
Keeping your breath light and shallow, breathe in and out through your mouth rapidly, at about one breath per second. Focus on keeping your inhalations silent and making more audible exhalations.
Try variable breathing
This is a slight alteration of the light breathing technique. Also known as the “pant-pant-blow” or “hee-hee-hooo” technique, it combines light breaths with frequent and more pronounced exhalations. This technique can help to make you feel less overwhelmed and stressed about labour.
For the second stage of labour
Focus your breath
Once the cervix is fully dilated, you’ll need to focus on breaths that will aid pushing the baby out. Focus on the baby inside you and the passage it has to travel to move out into the world. When the time comes to push, take a big breath, tuck your chin to chest, curl your body and lean forward. Then push down,holding your breath or slowly releasing air by grunting or moaning. Remember to relax the pelvic floor and help the baby come down by releasing any tension in the perineum.
The changes in breathing patterns and the tension of labour can also lead to dry mouth syndrome. You can alleviate this by sipping on fluids or sucking on ice chips between contractions. Touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your teeth as you breathe also helps moistens the air you breathe.
To help make this easier and stress free, it helps to have a labour partner – perhaps your spouse or any other family member, who can help time your breathing and assure you that labour is definitely worth the sweet gift at the end. So relax, focus on your breath and count down to that wondrous sensation of cradling your newborn in your arms. And, if you need any help, just sign up for a prenatal yoga class with one of our professional yoga instructors! Happy mothering!