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Preparing for Childbirth and Beyond : Breathing Techniques to Calm Your Mind and Body

The following exercises will help prepare you for the childbearing process as well as throughout your parenting years. Remember, you can only control what you can control. Focus on your breath as your anchor in all stressful situations and prevent the negative impact of stress on your relationships and your life. The more you practice the easier it will be to use these techniques at times when you need them the most.

1. Breath Awareness

Start with awareness of the natural inhalation and exhalation of your breathing without any change. If you are distracted by the activity in your mind, try not to engage in these thoughts. Just notice them and then let them go and bring your attention back to inhalation and exhalation.

2. Pause Breathing

Add little pauses at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale.

3.  Belly Breathing

  • Begin by inhaling deeply through the nose.  On each inhalation, fill the belly up with your breathing, expanding the belly with air like a balloon.
  • On each exhalation, send out all the air from the belly through your nose. Draw the navel back towards your spine to ensure that the belly is empty of air.
  • Repeat this breathing exercise until it becomes natural.

4.  Heart-focused Breathing

  • Imagine the breath passing in and out through the heart or the center of the chest.
  • Breathe an attitude of calm or balance (or whatever positive feeling you choose) to help restore balance.

This breathing technique is especially helpful during times of acute pain or whenever you are experiencing anger, anxiety or emotional overload.

5.  Box Breathing

  • Inhale for (4) counts.
  • Pause for (4) counts.
  • Exhale for (4) counts.
  • Pause for (4) counts.

If you find it difficult to breathe for (4) counts, try (2) or (3) counts instead. However, be sure to stay with the same count during the entire breath cycle.

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