Using breath and yoga for body awareness during labor

When I assist a woman in birth one of the ways I prepare them is through yoga , breath work and visualization  . I use yoga and breath as a tool for body awareness . I have found that the more tuned in and connected a woman is to her body and her own needs the easier time she will have navigating the waves of her contractions in labor . When we resist or fight the sensation of discomfort our bodies will tighten ,contract and hold on . In birth this counterintuitive to the process . Learning to Surrender into as you ride out the contractions will help your body let go , open and allow your baby to drop down . 

A few simple poses To help prepare for childbirth :
1. Simple Seated Breath Work – Sitting In a crossed legged position place your left hand on your heart and your right hand onto your belly ( intuitively find your baby with you hand). Slowly through your nose breathe in 4 deep breaths right into your  heart then send that breath down to your baby . Exhale slowly through your mouth as your  shoulders , jaws , belly and whole body relaxes . Do this a few times then inhale through your nose the work “let ” and exhale through your mouth “go “, again on the exhale everything softens and relaxes . Next breathe in the word” I ” exhale the word “surrender ” lastly breathe in “body ” exhale “relaxes” . Why I have you do this –  In labor When you breathe into your baby during a contraction you are helping them out by sending them extra oxygen and blood flow as you relax on the exhale your body is able to open and your baby can corkscrew their way down . Often in labor I will place my hand on my client’s  belly where the contraction is happening and say , ” breathe into my hand and as you exhale let everything relax , your jaws , shoulders and belly. By softening your body  you are helping your baby  so much so they can easily drop down and make their way out into your arms . get-attachment-3.aspx
2. Wag The Tail – On all fours ( hands flat on floor under shoulders , knees on floor , hip distance apart ) Begin to slowly rock your hips from side to side like you are rocking your baby in a cradle . Breathe in though your nose and into your baby and exhale through your mouth letting your belly drop and relax . I usually place my hand under their belly and have them breathe into my hand and as they exhale I say let your belly go as your baby drops into my hand . Why do this – As women we constantly grip our bellies this helps relax the area and again will help you in surrendering instead of fighting the contraction . get-attachment-2.aspx
3. Squatting – Come into a squat position ( you can place a block under your sit bones) and inhale through your nose for a 4 count breath, deep into the groin area as you pull your pelvic floor muscles up , as you exhale release and let go of your pelvic floor muscles , (Otherwise known as a kegel ) repeat 10 times  . To help find the pelvic floor muscle when going to the bathroom stop urination midstream , thats your pelvic floor. Why I like this –  We tend to clench this area , in labor it is important  to soften so that the cervix can dilate and open . Kegels also help prevent urinary incontinence .  Image
If you have your own yoga practice , try playing around with holding poses and breathing into the sensation . Hip openers such as : pigeon or double pigeon are great for this . Try to hold for a few minutes and when you want to come out see if you can stay in longer by breathing into the tightness and releasing that area with your breath . You can label the sensation as pain , tension  or tightness , breathing into the part of your body where you feeling it ( this floods the area with oxygen and blood , which helps to heal ) . As you exhale through your mouth, breath out that sensation that you labeled , so you are literally breathing the tightness , tension pain out of your body as you soften and relax . You can let it go through your mouth  by breath alone or add sound to it . Image

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