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mindful breathing

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"Did you know..."

“Did you know…?” That is something I hear ALL the time from my kids. So today, I am going to ask it! Did you know that focusing on your breathing can practically get you through anything? That’s right, anything! If you think about it, yay! That’s so simple. Easy to do, and it doesn’t cost anything, AND you can be anywhere, at any time, at any moment! No equipment necessary, just you!

This morning I woke up feeling somewhat better after being sick for over a week. I really didn’t feel like practicing my yoga, but I decided to show up on the mat and give it a go. I was thinking to myself, if I practice focusing on my breathing like I tell my clients during labor, I can see if I can get through yoga today. I am always telling them to focus on their breathing. So, I decided to practice what I preach. Let me just tell you, it was the best yoga session yet! And I have been practicing yoga for a long time. Honestly, I would always overthink it. The instructor told me to breathe out at this time and breathe in this time, then we changed poses, and I was still trying to figure out if my breathing was correct and if I did the pose right. I am finally starting to just let it go and follow my body and just breathe!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing about yoga today. I was just giving an example of how letting go and just focusing on breathing can make a world of difference. Maybe it is a bit like yoga, but lets mainly focus on breathing. Like they do in yoga. 🙂

 

breathing

What is mindful breathing?

 Mindful breathing is basically focusing on your breathing. True focus of your breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Tuning into its natural flow. 

Breathing in the good, and blowing out the bad.

Practicing breathing techniques can be part of your daily routine in self- care (read more on self-care). Mindful breathing is not just for labor, birth, or yogi masters!

 

Benefits of Mindful breathing:

  • Helps keep you in control and focused
  • Helps you to relax
  • Empowers you
  • Takes away stress
  • Releases tension
  • Keeps you from holding your breath
  • Slows your breath down for  deep cleanse breathing
  • Helps cope with pain during contractions

How do I practice and when do I practice?

The beauty of mindful breathing is that you can practice anytime and anywhere. There are many apps out there that remind you to practice on focusing on your breathing and taking a time out for deep cleansing breaths. Or simply just set an alarm to take a few moments of deep breathing. The idea is to practice daily, it does take a bit to get completely used to, and to learn to just totally focus on just breathing. Try practicing for a few minutes several times a day. 

The importance of mindful breathing technique is focusing on slowing your breathing, keeping you from hyperventilating, or even holding your breath. Especially during labor, don’t hold your breath, you want to keep breathing! Evenly and slowly. Controlled. Breathing in through your nose for 4-6 seconds, and slowly out of your mouth for 7-9 seconds. Fill your tummy.

 

breathing

What are different breathing techniques for labor and birth?

The two most important techniques are:

  • The 4:7 Breath: it helps you to relax and de-stress
    • Place one hand on your tummy and one hand on your chest.
    • Breathe through your nose for 4-6 seconds and fill your tummy.
    • Slowly exhale for 7-9 seconds through your mouth. 
  • The “J” breath is a very popular term for this next breathing technique, and is super effective. I love suggesting this one to clients during active labor and getting ready to push. 
    • Take a deep breath through your nose.
    • Exhale while imagining your are pushing the air down past your uterus and birth canal in a “J” motion. You are breathing baby out. Moaning or loud exhaling may help. Follow your body. It knows what to do. 
    • This can be practiced earlier as well, like when you are pooping 🙂 

Breathing through labor:

During contractions the 4:7 breathing is so beneficial, it helps you control your breath while riding out those waves of contractions.  Control of your breath helps the focus of relaxing. Keep breaths long and controlled. Try closing your eyes to help focus just on breathing. Or find an object to focus on, maybe your birth partners shirt, or their face. Or your  favorite item or candle burning. Find your ritual and go with it. 

As labor  progresses, and contractions increase, your focus on breathing needs to increase. Once you are in transition, mix it up a little bit, giving you a break by using two short quick breaths in and two short quick ones out. Keep it controlled so you don’t hyperventilate. (some mommas don’t like that, so they continue the long, slow breaths). Follow your body. 

During the pushing phase, practice the J breathing. You are so close momma! Breathe that baby out. Breathing helps you be empowered and reminds you that you can do this. It’s ok to add moaning, or exhaling loudly. These long, relaxing breaths will help you get through it. Before you know it, your baby will be in your arms. 

Mindful breathing keeps you going! Let’s be honest, labor is hard, not fun, and scary. But our bodies are created for this. We just need to refocus and follow what we are made to do.  By keeping relaxed and releasing the tension, that allows the contractions to do their job. Breathing is a major part of helping us.

If you can’t breathe through the whole count, don’t stress over that, just slowly and deeply as best you can. Remember to focus on relaxing and keeping your breaths long and controlled. 

 

What if I lose focus or can’t remember to breathe?

 First off, practice, practice, practice during pregnancy until it is natural for you. 

And this is where your wonderful birth partner comes in and/or your birth doula! (Read more on birth doulas). They can help you to refocus, and breathe with you and remind you how to breathe and what to do. Make a plan prior to labor. Write out what breathing you want to do and how long to count for. Have your partner count for you. Have them say; “Breathe in slowly, 2,3,4… breathe out slowly, 2,3,4,5,6,7”. Slow and controlled. This also helps you to just focus on the task for that moment, let them do all the thinking!

Note to birth partner: help your partner by focusing her to breathe during contractions. Counting out loud, with practice focused attention. look your partner in the eyes and count.  If she closes her eye, continue counting. This can create powerful moments for the two of you, and boost that wonderful oxytocin.

together pregnant
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The takeaway!

Very simple tips to help you get through the birth in a calm and focused matter. 

  • Practice daily
  • Get a routine down
  • Focus on the simple breathing techniques to get through labor and birth
  • Follow your body, follow those instincts
  • stay as clam and relaxed as possible
  • Allow your birth partner and doula do the thinking for you!

Questions, comments or concerns? I’m always here to help and LOVE feedback. I am always wanting to hear what you want to learn about to help you through your journey. I am always finding and researching more ideas. 

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Hello!

I am Leah. Welcome to The Loving Cedar LLC. Here is where you will find parenting tips and tricks to help you simplify life.

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