Women all around the world use their breath to help them with the sensations of labour. Breath awareness helps us to get out of our ‘thinking minds’ and into our body.
Your mind influences the perception of pain. If we start to believe a negative story, for example; ‘this is too hard’ or ‘I can’t do this’ then we enter the realm of suffering. The more we can quiet the negative mental chatter the better we can cope with strong sensations. Breath awareness helps us do this. With dedication, focus and patience you can learn to still the mental chatter and quieten the mind by focussing on your breath.
Breath Awareness For Birth
In Birthing From Within classes, we use ice cubes to simulate an uncomfortable sensation. This allows you to understand which breathing techniques will be most effective for you. We are all so unique and it’s fun to discover which practices work best. Some people are more visual and others like to have verbal guidance or use movement to assist.
Foundational Breathing Exercise
Grab a bowl of ice and a timer. Before picking up your ice, notice how you’re breathing today, in this moment. Bring your attention to your out-breath. Try to relax your body as you exhale. Now, set the timer for 60 seconds and pick up a handful of ice. Continue breathing. Try to focus on each exhalation and if your mind wanders, just bring your attention back to your next outward breath. Soften and release with each exhalation.
How did you go? The more you practice quietening your mind, the easier it will become.
It’s very natural to seek pleasure and avoid pain. In everyday life, feeling pain is a signal that something needs to change. It is essential to our survival to fix a pain that is life-threatening. However, in normal labour, strong sensations are to be expected and don’t necessarily need to be ‘fixed’ or numbed.
In fact, there are advantages to feeling the sensations. Women having an unmedicated birth instinctively move into better positions for themselves and their babies. Being upright and mobile can help shorten the length of labour and significantly reduce pain.
Endorphins are ‘natures pain relief’ that the body releases in response to pain. They help people to feel calm and blissful. The labouring woman may lose track of time and look like she is drunk or stoned or in a dream-like state. We can enhance the release of endorphins by helping the woman feel safe and not talking too much.
Other environmental factors that can help the mother to get in-the-zone include helping her feel safe and private and making sure the birth space is warm and dark or dimly lit. This enhances the effect of her hormones thus making labour safer and more enjoyable.
The best way to learn about these breathing techniques is to actually try them out. Get in touch with Kirrah if you’d like to try a free class.