As I prepare to teach my next ICEA Professional Childbirth Educator Workshop, I am reminded why it is imperative that we teach breathing techniques if we want those in our childbirth classes to know how to really relax.
First, we should teach nasal breathing on the inward breath and outward breath as the nose provides a much more direct route for air to fully inflate the lungs than does the mouth.
Second, when the nasal breath is slow, meticulous and full, the lungs fully inflate and stimulate the nerves which signal "Ok, no stress, relax!" Within seconds of doing this, the amount of stress hormones in the body (catecolamines) is reduced, the blood pressure drops slightly as does the pulse.
Third, without the fight/flight stress hormones, the person is free to relax completely, do some positive relaxation techniques, or just coast.
Let's face it...Lamaze made breathing famous and many of those attending childbirth classes have heard about breathing techniques for labor and birth. But more than being famous, slow breathing techniques help all of us live more stress free lives..
...and isn't that what we would all like to have? Less stress?