Once upon a time, the hallmark of Lamaze childbirth education was “breathing” (hee, hoo, hee, hoo). Over the years, Lamaze has evolved into a comprehensive approach to childbirth, part of which are comfort measures for labor; breathing is one of the suggested comfort measures. So what does it mean to “breathe?” Here’s a little on what you should know:
Breathing in Pregnancy:
A Daily Check-in
Finding the time, energy, and peace to face your fears—or do anything that requires mental focus—is a challenge in our culture. One pregnant woman shared that after years of working at her office, she’d tuned out the sounds of phones ringing and computers clicking. She didn’t even notice how noisy her office was until an older coworker looked at her across the bank of desks and said, “You’re bringing this child into a world of sounds my babies never heard."
It’s true: In just a decade or two, technology has changed the world dramatically. From cell phones to ATMs, from microwave ovens to Facebook friends, from high-definition DVDs to iPods, technology fills our days with vivid images and messages. It’s a noisy, busy world that can crowd out the peace we need to connect with ourselves.
Connecting with yourself is an important task during your pregnancy. It’s a big job to pay attention to all the physical, emotional, and spiritual changes you’re experiencing. It takes concentration to envision a future that includes a new role and a new person. Finding a place of stillness for a few moments each day can help you do this crucial work.
Even if your space and your schedule are crowded, you can find a place and time to keep a daily appointment with yourself. Perhaps you can retreat to the corner of your bedroom, the bathroom, a closet, or an empty room at your workplace. Perhaps you can sneak a moment before others wake up, after they’ve gone to bed, before you get in the shower, or during your lunch break. You might want to “check in” at the same time each day so you treat this appointment with yourself as the important time it is.
Your daily check-in may be a few moments of silence, meditation, or prayer. You can use this time to get in touch with not only your feelings, but also your body and the little one who is taking up more and more of it. Close your eyes for a moment and listen to your breathing, then take an inventory of yourself: Are there any tense areas in your body—neck, shoulders, throat, hands, back? Is anything nagging at your mind? Doing a full-body and -mind check will help you identify what needs to be released, relaxed, or dealt with.
Breathing Benefits from Yoga Practice
Yoga, an ancient form of exercise that includes breath control, meditation, and body postures, has become popular among pregnant women. It’s easy to understand why: Many yoga exercises include movements that open the pelvis. Yoga also teaches rhythmic breathing, concentration, stamina building, and relaxation. Some women who do yoga report improved physical coordination and more balanced emotions.
Lamaze Classes and Breathing
Lamaze classes prepare women for a safe, healthy birth by providing the most current, evidence-based information about birth, simplifying birth, and helping women navigate the maze of modern obstetrics. Be wary of “Lamaze” classes that spend a lot of time practicing relaxation and breathing and little or no time building your confidence or discussing how to keep things simple and how to have the safe, healthy birth you want in the birth setting you have chosen.