Focused Breathing Techniques

Transcript

Nurse Goodwin

During your birthing classes, you’ll usually practice focused breathing techniques. Focused breathing is a tool to help you concentrate on your breathing and away from the pain of labor. It helps you stay relaxed and maintain control. There are many different breathing patterns to choose from.

Let’s explore some of the most common breathing techniques.

A cleansing breath involves taking a full, deep breath. You may find it helps to take a cleansing breath at the beginning and end of each contraction.

Breathing Coach

A cleansing breath is an exaggerated, deep breath. You’re breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing in fresh, new oxygen — filling your belly, giving that air to your baby. It’s a way to greet your contraction and say goodbye to your contraction. And it looks something like this.

Nurse Goodwin

This breath is a signal that tells your body to relax. It also lets your coach know when a new contraction is about to start.

Slow-paced breathing involves taking a series of slow, deep, easy breaths. It’s similar to your normal breathing rate when you’re relaxed or resting.

Breathing Coach

You’ll use slow-paced breathing as your contractions increase in intensity and lengthen and grow stronger. Think of it mentally as breathing in: one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand. And then breathing out: one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand. It looks something like this.

Nurse Goodwin

It should feel comfortable and not be slower than half of your usual breathing rate.

Modified-paced breathing involves a shorter, lighter breath, and is also called “shallow chest breathing.”

Breathing Coach

This kind of breathing is about twice your normal rate, and it’s in response to the intensity of your contractions building even more. Just like when you’re exercising and your activity increases, your breathing rate increases. And we’ll think of it the same way. It looks something like this.

Nurse Goodwin

The rate is approximately 32 to 40 breaths per minute, but should not be faster than twice your normal breathing rate. This technique can be used when you no longer feel you can keep in control using slow-paced breathing alone.

These breathing techniques can be combined for more flexibility and variety. For example, you can begin each contraction with a cleansing breath, move to slow, even breathing, increase the rate to modified breathing at the more intense peaks and then resume slow breathing as the contraction subsides. End the contraction with another cleansing breath.

The breathing that you see most often in movies and on TV is a type of patterned breathing.

Breathing Coach

This is a shallower breathing that you’ll use when your contractions are very intense or when you feel the urge to push and you need to channel that energy in a different direction. I also call it “candle blowing” and it looks something like this.

Nurse Goodwin

You will use this type of breathing or panting when you are feeling the need to push, but it’s still too early.

The exact breathing pattern that you use is less important than your ability to use it when the time comes. Remember, it’s never too early to practice these techniques.