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Deep Breathing Exercises for Pregnancy

Deep breathing during pregnancy is beneficial for a number of reasons. It can help you manage symptoms of morning sickness and relieve the stress and tension that come with pregnancy. In addition, abdominal breathing can help you deal with the physical discomforts of pregnancy, as well as labor and delivery.

Deep breathing is something few of us do without conscious effort and regular practice. If you are pregnant, it’s a good idea to begin deep breathing exercises as early in your pregnancy as you can – even before you become pregnant, if possible.

Deep breathing is breathing from the abdomen and diaphragm. To practice deep breathing, sit in a comfortable, supported position. Relax. Place one hand on your abdomen and inhale through your nose, inhaling deeply and fully into your abdomen. If, like many women, you’re experiencing nasal congestion because of your pregnancy, you can breathe in through your mouth. Your abdomen should move outward as you inhale. If only your chest is moving, then you aren’t inhaling deeply enough.

After you’ve inhaled as much and as deeply as you can, pause for a few seconds. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth as your abdomen returns to its normal position. Repeat several times, working up to about 10 breaths twice each day or more as needed. If you feel yourself becoming lightheaded or dizzy, you’re probably breathing too quickly and need to slow down. When you breathe, allow every other party of your body to relax completely, even to the point of going limp.

Once you’ve learned the proper technique for deep breathing, practice deep breathing while lying on your side. You need not keep a hand on your abdomen at all times – when you’re more experienced, you can use it only when you need to remind yourself how to breathe properly.

As your pregnancy progresses, abdominal breathing may become more difficult for you as your growing uterus is pressing upward against your ribs and diaphragm. Breathe as deeply as you can, knowing both you and your baby will benefit from the additional oxygen and the relaxation it brings.

Deep abdominal breathing can be used whenever you’re feeling nauseated or tired, or experiencing tension or discomfort. As you exhale, visualize the problem – whether it’s nausea, fatigue or pain – leaving your body. This type of abdominal breathing can be used effectively for pain management, even during childbirth. In fact, deep abdominal breathing is a central part of The Bradley Method. When you breathe in a shallow way, using just your chest, you tend to become more anxious, which increases your pain. Taking the time to slow down and breathe using your abdomen can provide surprising relief – even during your labor and delivery.

Breathing deeply can also help you to relax, which can – in turn – help keep you free from stress and tension and, in some cases, even lower your blood pressure. As you breathe deeply, you also encourage your circulatory system to work more effectively, which can help your body manage swelling and congestion.

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