Friday, October 16, 2009

The Lamaze Breathing Rap

OK, this was silly, but perhaps the "hee-hee-hoo-hoo" rhythmic breathing is precisely what you think of, when someone mentions the word Lamaze.
It's important to know that Lamaze is not a method of birth but a philosophy of birth. So having a Lamaze birth doesn't mean you have to breathe a certain way.
So, how important IS breathing in labor anyway ? Do breathing techniques help ?

Well, it IS important to make sure you ARE breathing in labor, and not holding your breath, especially during pushing. Many people don't breathe fully and therefore don't reap the benefits of deep abdominal breathing. Most people breathe up high in their chests and don't fill the lungs to capacity. When taking a deep breath, you should see your abdomen rise and fall as you inhale and exhale.

Often, when I am with clients in labor in my doula work, I will remind a Mom to "breathe down to the baby". This means, breathe deeply, to make sure plenty of oxygen is getting to the baby and also the uterus so that it can do the hard work of contacting and bringing the baby down.

Sometimes, quick, shallow breaths can be helpful at the peak of a contraction, but you must listen to your body and not hyperventilate. Most women know how to breathe during labor and only need gentle reminding or coaxing if they loose focus or become overwhelmed. Talk to your doula or childbirth educator about how to use breathing to your advantage during labor and birth.

Doula, Penny Simkin has a great DVD that demonstrates breathing techniques and other comfort measures for labor. You can order it here :

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