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Breathing is a simple but effective way to help manage labor pain. Breathe deeply to relax, or use patterned breathing to distract you from the pain.
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Linda Murray: Breathing is a simple and widely used natural pain-management technique. There are many different breathing techniques that can help you during labor. One is taking slow, deep breaths that fill your lungs. Typically, you'll breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Listen to the sound of your breath as you exhale. Let's do it together. [Breathing] When you're having a contraction, you won't be able to fill your lungs as far. Just breathe as deeply as is comfortable for you. These breaths can calm and relax you and maybe help to distract you from the pain of contractions. You can do them on your own or with your partner. Look each other in the eye and breathe together. In addition to helping you cope, taking deep breaths sends more oxygen to your baby and uterus, which is good for your labor. Another technique is called pattern breathing, and it's a more specific structured method that needs to be practiced. Several kinds of breathing patterns can help. Your caregiver can work with you during pregnancy to try a few. Pattern breathing helps to distract you from the pain of contractions by focusing your mind on the breathing task.
Monnie Reba Efross: So the two types of breathing that we use have a couple of functions in labor, and one is just simply distraction, that if you're focusing on the breath that you're doing and maybe if the breath actually has a pattern to it, you're focusing on that, so you're not focusing only on the pain, and that helps ease. And also, the other thing that the breaths really do is help with relaxation, especially the slow breath, the cleansing breath. If you're going in slowly and out slowly, and you're releasing also with a sound, all of that is going to keep you from tightening up. And that's one of the most important things in labor, women, when the pain comes, all of us tend to do that. When any kind of pain comes, we tighten up, we go mmm, like that. So when you're breathing either the slow breath or the fast breath, it's pretty hard to stay like this while you're doing these focused breathing. And all of that helps your body relax and in the relaxation, there's actually less pain. And then as well, the distraction also keeps the focus off of it.
Mom 1: Breathing really helped and it sounds so simple, but just really paying attention to my breathing as I was going through a contraction and trying to focus on that rather than on the pain, which is a lot harder than it sounds, obviously.
Mom 2: So when they say, "Breathe through a contraction," I don't know how you do that. I think I held my breath on every single contraction.
Mom 3: There was a really wonderful nurse nearby who did try to talk to me and help me through it. And the breathing techniques did help quite a bit, but in no way was that a relaxation technique. Relaxation was nowhere near anything in my mind at that point, but the breathing techniques and actually counting and having her, you know, just talk to me at the point of pain was perfect.