Whether the woman has chosen a natural childbirth or a labor with pain medication, breathing is essential to the health of the baby during this stressful time. The woman can also use the breathing techniques she learns before labor begins to control pain before pain medications can be administered. Unlike many other parts of the labor process, breathing is a two person action. Women can choose a birthing partner or doula to help her stay focused on proper breathing techniques throughout the birthing process.
Benefits of Breathing Properly
Breathing is crucial for natural pain management, but it provides more than just pain relief. Proper breathing techniques can keep blood oxygenated throughout the birthing process. Many women naturally want to hold their breath when labor pains arise. The entire time breaths are held, oxygen is not reaching the blood supply. This means that the baby is receiving less oxygen every time the woman holds onto another breath. Reduced oxygen levels can lead to fetal distress and birth complications.
Proper Breathing Techniques
During the first stage of labor, slow and steady breathing is the best option for pain control. The first breath should be long and deep. This is called the organizational breath because the woman should be organizing her thoughts and focusing on breathing at this exact moment. The next breath will slowly be pulled in through the nose and then pushed out through the mouth with an audible sigh.
The second stage of labor means more intense pain and a need to change up breathing techniques a bit. Accelerated breathing accounts for the quick, patterned breaths most Hollywood women exhibit. The first breath, again, is the cleansing and focusing breath. This is a long, deep breath. As the labor pain begins to swell, breath in through the nose and out through the mouth with an audible sign. women can switch to complete mouth breathing at the peak of pain. Breaths should be shallow and fast – about one complete breath per second. As the contraction eases up, women should return to the slow and steady breathing from the first stage of labor.
Positive Partner Support
When the woman attend breathing classes, it is important to have a birthing partner attend as well. During the painful throws of labor, the birthing partner can help bring the woman back into focus by reminding her of proper breathing techniques.
Combating Dry Mouth
With all this breathing going on, the woman is bound to get a dry mouth quickly. Natural techniques for treating a dry mouth include placing the tip of the tongue behind front teeth when mouth breathing or breathing in and out of a cupped hand with fingers spread. Ice chips are also allowed during labor.