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Life begins with the breath and ends when the breath subsides. Harmony and balance in the body come through the breath. Focusing on the breath centers the mind, deep breathing helps the body relax and unwind. Most would agree that breathing is not overrated, but is definitely taken for granted.
Deep breathing during birthing is like a pain relieving drug, but without the negative side affects. It is naturally calming to the mothers body and consequently to her baby. Focused breathing opens the cervical and vaginal sphincters, oxygenates the placenta via the blood and allows babies to greet their first breath with greater ease and less pain. Birth is about breathing.
For hundreds of years it was believed that a baby could not be born unless the mother tucked her chin to her chest, held her breath and pushed with all her strength. If the mother was unable to push due to anesthesia or an epidural, the baby was then pulled out of his mother’s body by some other method of extraction. This practice established that a woman’s body must not have the power to birth without force. The truth is that a woman’s body can naturally expel her baby with little to no effort at all. The baby will gradually descend the birth canal assisted by the mothers perfectly designed birthing body. We know this because of the several documented cases of women in coma’s who have given birth unassisted.
In many birthing circles even today hospital staff regularly coaches the birthing mother in unison to “Tuck!” “Hold your breath!” “Push!” You may want to try experimenting with this method of pushing. Try pulling your knees up to your chest and curling your body into a “C” shape, holding your breath and pushing! Notice where all of the energy goes as you are pushing…pretty much all into your head or your stomach, very little gets out through your bottom where it should go.
Forced pushing is counterproductive, creating stress in the birthing mother’s body and causing the vaginal sphincters to tighten up or even close which slows rather than hastens the baby’s descent into life. There is a lot written about the problems of forced pushing and the possible damaging effects it has on the muscles of the pelvic floor. Then comes the part where the mother is told to “hold her breath” Are you kidding me? Why is that, especially at a time when the baby needs oxygen more than ever to complete the difficult task of birth?
Most mothers who choose to use natural methods of birthing have been trained to use a focused breath during each stage of labor. When it is time, there is a natural pulsation in the body that helps gently move your baby down the birth canal. When a birthing mother lengthens her neck, focuses her breath through the back of her throat, down into the birth canal and out through the vaginal opening, her baby will be born more easily and with less pain. In this way you are not only breathing oxygen and life into your baby but also love. If you are breathing correctly, your body will be relaxed and your baby can emerge steadily and safely into this world.
One of my clients requested that there be no coached pushing during her birthing in the hospital. It wasn’t long after she reached completion when her doctor and nurses began insisting that she “tuck your chin, hold your breath and push.” This brave mother kept stubbornly saying “I don’t understand!” while she lay her head back, opened her throat and breathed down to her baby daughter. She remained calm and mostly relaxed while breathing through several contractions. As her baby was crowning the insistent coaching from the staff had begun to wear her down and finally she succumbed, tucking her head and pushing as she was being coached. In the photos you can observe a graphic depiction of the change in her from when she was breathing her baby to birthing and when she was pushing.
Focused birth breathing wins over forced pushing every time. Breathing brings life and birth is all about the breath.
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Education is KEY to setting yourself up for your best possible birth. Knowing your options and how to advocate for yourself makes a huge difference.
With the main reason people develop hemorrhoids is from pressure in the bottom, it seems unlikely many women will experience pregnancy and birth unscathed.