If you’ve read about my birth affirmations and the meditation I did to prepare for labor then you know that breathing was a big part of my birth preparation. It seemed counterintuitive to me then to let someone else tell me how to breathe during the penultimate moment of delivery.
While I was pregnant I was part of a year-long leadership development program with NASA. One of the speakers we had was Wendy Palmer. She is an amazing and dynamic person and her practical workshop was the type where you wonder “how is this helping me?” and then you can’t get it out of your mind for…well, years. Her book The Intuitive Body talks about using the non-aggressive Japanese martial art aikido and meditation to cultivate awareness, attention, and self-acceptance. Part of the practice is breathing and I used her technique when I was in the pushing phase of labor.
Here is my adaptation of Wendy’s breathing technique. If you want to learn more I really recommend her book.
- Develop a positive intention. This is usually one word that focuses on what you want to happen instead of what you DON’T want to happen. I used “peace baby.” That might seem like a weird word to use during labor but I didn’t want to get caught up in the anxiety or even the excitement spiral. I wanted to stay above the hub bub of what was going on around me and focus on the magical moment that was happening between myself and my baby.
- Inhale fully through your nose when you feel the urge to push.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth while holding your intention word in your head.
- Imagine the breathe spiraling from the top of your skull down through your feet, releasing as it goes down. Releasing all the tension and bringing your intention word to fruition. As a relaxation technique this sprial releases tension or anxiety. In labor I used the spiral to imagine the power of my push helping my baby along the birth canal.
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