Practicing breathing exercises is one of the best ways to be prepared for childbirth. It can help reduce fear and stress and can allow the labor and delivery to go more smoothly. Not only does that make things easier for the mother, but it can also make it easier on the baby as he or she makes an entrance into the world. There are several different methods of patterned breathing that can be used; each woman can choose the method that is right for her.
Some women like to take light, shallow breaths that fill up only their chest. Other women prefer to take deep, full breaths from their diaphragm, as these will fill up their abdomen. What works for one woman might not work for another, so it's very important to practice the right kind of breathing for you. The more you practice before you go into labor, the more easily you'll be able to use your breathing exercises during that time. The pattern that you use for your breathing will also likely change as labor progresses. Changing the pattern will help control any discomfort you're feeling.
Slow breathing is generally used for the first stage of labor, with light accelerated breathing used as labor progresses. Transition breathing will then be utilized when delivery is imminent. Many classes teach these kinds of breathing exercises, but you can also learn and practice them on your own. It can be helpful if you have your partner or a friend or family member to help you work through any anxiety or fear you have with learning to breathe the right way as your pregnancy advances.
The more you know about your body, and the more you understand how labor and delivery progress, the better off you'll be in regard to your breathing. Making sure you breathe correctly won't remove all the discomfort of childbirth, but it will make things easier for you. It can also keep your stress level low, which has been shown to reduce pain. Having more confidence that you have some control over how things are progressing is a very important benefit of breathing exercises.
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