Breathing is regulated by the autonomic nervous system and is subconscious. Breathing and our breath are things that we mostly take for granted. So, why am I writing a blog post about breath?
Recently I was attending a birth (as a Birth Doula) and I realized how much I focus on helping mothers to breathe during labor. The following day I was working with a mom as a Lactation Consultant and again I found myself focusing on her breath. That led me to think about how much I use breath/breathing slowly as a parent and in my day-to-day life to keep myself calm and focused. I felt the topic deserved to be explored.
- Mothers who control their breathing tend to be calmer and able to keep their body more relaxed.
- By breathing slowly and steadily the mother is helping to deliver a steady flow of oxygen to baby through the placenta.
- Deep breathing with vocalization can help to manage discomfort and pain during the final stages of labor.
- If baby's heart rate was to drop it can raise right back up if mama does some good steady breathing.
- Breathing that resembles panting can help a mother who feels the urge to push but is not completely dilated and is asked to wait.
- Slow focused breathing during the pushing stage can ease a baby out and help to avoid tearing of the perineum.
- Some mamas will almost "breathe the baby out" by barely pushing and just allowing baby to ease out with mama's breath.
- Mother and partner breathing in unison can create a calm atmosphere in the birth space and help both to focus.
Once baby is born.....
- Baby's first breaths are what parents are waiting to hear. They let us know that our baby is ok.
- Once the umbilical cord is cut the baby is now required to breathe on its own for the first time.
- Slow steady breathing can help mama deal with the discomfort of the first postpartum contractions of the uterus.
- If any repairs to the perineum are necessary, your partner or Doula can help you control your discomfort by talking to you about breathing out and breathing slowly.
- Making sure we control our breath while breastfeeding can help us to relax while mama and baby learn to latch.
- There may be times when breastfeeding is uncomfortable. Breathing slowly can help us to deal with that discomfort.
- When I work with new mothers as an IBCLC I often talk to them about their breath as I gently press down on their shoulder to show them that they need to relax.
- As we go on to nurse our babies into toddlerhood, we often struggle with discomfort during ovulation and our menstrual cycle. Taking the time to breathe calmly can help us to not snap at our innocently nursing toddler even when the feeling is grating on our last nerve.
- Over the years I have found myself in some pretty frustrating situations...understatement....and breathing has helped guide me through.
- When a toddler throws a tantrum in a restaurant....just breathe, smile and then pick them up and remove them from the situation.
- When a school-aged child talks back....breathe then respond calmly.
- Oh and when a high school-aged child openly defies you....breathe and then let them know what the consequences to their actions are.
- As you watch your first-born child depart for college....just breathe. They will be fine.
Breathing and Breath are so incredibly important!! Start paying attention and using it to help you deal with all that life throws at you.