The idea of motherhood carries a magical experience with it, but carrying a baby can sometimes turn out to be rather overwhelming for a new mother. Are those hormonal changes leaving you emotionally tired and spent? If so, then few simple breathing exercises during pregnancy can do the trick and save you from feeling anxious and stressed out.
Let’s take a look at a few breathing techniques that through the years, have been helping women take care of their body and mind, leaving them feeling relaxed, healthy, and strong. It is often stated that an average human can go without water for 3 days, but try going without air for even 3 minutes.
Effective and mindful breathing is the way to a healthy pregnancy – don’t take my word for it, try the below-mentioned techniques for yourself, and feel the difference!
The 5 Basic Breathing Exercises During Pregnancy
Effective breathing exercises during pregnancy help both the mother-to-be and the child growing within her. By cooling the body and calming the mind, breathing techniques help balance hormonal changes and hence, help in addressing emotional outbursts which are more than common during pregnancy.
1. Breathing away your morning sickness and the fatigue that accompanies it
All the hurling and nausea, not allowing you to get out of bed?
Find a comfortable spot on the ground and sit on it with your feet crossed. As you start to relax your body, take away your attention from the discomfort of your stomach and throat to the cool ground beneath you. Gradually, look within and notice the rhythmic pattern of your breath.
With each deep breath you inhale and exhale, imagine your tension melt away into the ground that supports you. As you relax and begin to breathe more slowly, bring your focus to the air that fills your lungs. Within a couple of minutes, you will start to calm down and relax. A power nap right after the exercise could work wonders in helping you deal with fatigue and muscle pain that comes with morning sickness (particularly during the early stages of pregnancy).
2. Breathing in plentiful oxygen and banishing away the bodily waste
Lay out that dusty old yoga mat you seem to have forgotten all about and then lie down with your stomach facing upwards on the mat. Place a small object like a ball next to your abdomen while you begin to relax on the floor. As you gradually bring your focus to each inhalation and exhalation and fall into the rhythm of your natural breathing style, move this object up and down, alongside this rhythm of your breath. Focus on this object as you move it up and down while breathing deeply.
Counting each cycle, while doing so can help calm your nerves further. Also known as the belly or diaphragmatic breathing, this technique is a great way to increase the oxygen intake by almost 33.33% during pregnancy. If done regularly it can regulate bowel movement and ensure effective removal of waste products from the body.
3. A little more O2
The belly breathing practice works best when it is followed by a hearty routine of chest breathing exercises. After 5 effective minutes of diaphragmatic breathing, sit up with your legs crossed and continue to inhale and exhale slowly. With each deep breath, observe your rib cage and thoracic cavity expand and contract.
You can continue the exercise for as long as it takes for you to relax, alternating it with stomach breathing, which has been explained above.
4. When the deep breathing gets tiring?
To give yourself a good boost for more deep breathing, pause a little, and practice breathing shallow. Shallow breathing, when alternated with the above-mentioned deep breathing practices, gives a push to the lungs and helps you breathe deeper, relaxing you further.
Shallow breathing can be done for a minute, in between the deep breathing exercises, or can also be practiced while you prepare yourself for a new round of deep breathing.
5. Cooling away the extra metabolic heat
Pregnant women go through various hormonal changes and an increase in metabolism, which results in heating up of their body, more often than it usually would. Various pranayamas like Sheetali and Sheetkari can help bring down body temperatures and leave you feeling cooler than before.
To cool your body, start with inhaling through your mouth. In order to do so, extend out your tongue and roll it into a straw (Sheetali). As you inhale through your extended tongue, observe the cool air entering your body through your mouth and the hot air exiting through your nostrils. After a few minutes of breathing, you can alternate this technique with the Sheetkari exercise.
For the Sheetkari pranayama, allow your lips to part slightly and widen (just like when you smile) as you bare your teeth to suck in the cool air through your mouth and exhale the hot air through your nose.
Both these pranayamas have been known to not only cool down the body but also fight off stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Practicing these techniques will keep your gut healthy and leave you feeling mental tranquility.
Easing Labor through Effective Breathing
The right breathing techniques, if practiced enough times (so that they become an autonomic response to stress), can not only help fight off irritability during pregnancy but also help you manage during labor.
1. Breathing through the contractions
Talking through the pain of contractions can be immensely difficult. Try practicing slow breathing through them, instead. When labor begins, slow down your breathing by counting mentally and limping your muscles as you exhale to relax. Relaxing with the slow art of breathing can help you maneuver through the intense contractions.
2. Shallow breathing for active labor
Have you seen a dog panting?
As you approach the active phase of labor, remember the panting dog and make a jump to light, shallow breathing. In-between contractions breathe faster – one breath per second a quiet inhalation, and a clearly audible exhalation.
As your cervix dilates, it is time to intersperse slow breathing with exhalation. Take in 5-6 shallow breaths and then exhale with a long sigh and a blow. Next, breathe in deeply and curl your body forward. Keep bearing down, as you hold your breath and try to relax the pelvic floor.
Following this pattern can help you efficiently manage the pain.
A Word of Caution
Holding your breath exercises shouldn’t be practiced during pregnancy as they reduce the flow of oxygen and can compromise its supply to the baby. It is also advised to wait an hour or two after a snack before you begin the breathing exercises. A minimum gap of three hours should be maintained between a heavy meal and any kind of breathing exercise.
Concluding the Benefits
Almost all pregnancy situations can be handled with the correct breathing technique. On one side, it helps you manage pain and calm yourself down while on the other side it can also come in handy when you are done taking advice from people and just want to find some efficient me-time to relax.
Besides, the breathing exercises during pregnancy also work like a charm when you can’t seem to fall asleep at night. Just go ahead, relax and watch as you slowly drift into a deep slumber!
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