In this weeks blog I have chosen to write about the out breath used in second stage labour. This topic has come up this week in classes, as we had a birth story where a mum was told not to use the out breath. As this is one of the techniques we encourage in our Daisy Birthing classes, I felt some explanation was needed as to the importance of breathing in labour.
I truly believe that Daisy Birthing is a brilliant birth prep as it WONT give you a prescriptive routine. We CAN'T say you will use your basic birth breath for the first 4hrs, then move to Escalator breath before finishing with the Ouuuuttt breath! If we could life would be so much easier. However birth is unpredictable, we all birth and experience things very differently and that can even vary from pregnancy to pregnancy with the same mum!
What we are endeavoring to do is give you a “tool kit", a group of breathing techniques, and understanding of how movement can affect your labour and most importantly relaxation techniques! Your labour hormones won't work as efficiently if you are full of adrenaline. We know fear (as well as hunger, tiredness and thirst) can raise your adrenaline levels, and one good way of reducing them is by breathing!
So why is the “ouuuttt” breath more efficient than “purple pushing” (think mum chin to chest, holding her breath and puuuuuussshing red faced)? Quite simply, with the “out” breath you are BREATHING! At second stage we need really focus on relaxing the lower abdominal muscles (opening and making space) the body is incredibly clever and if you have been left to reach second stage naturally, your body will be doing the work instinctively, you just need to breath with it! There is a lovely article here which deciphers Michel Odent’s “Fetal Ejection Reflex”
This article talks about the “Fetal Ejection Reflex”, being a reflex that women have in birthing, a reflex whereby their body is ready to eject their baby, and the muscles will be working to achieve this. We simply need to go with that. However Michel Odent saya that for this reflex to be stimulated the birthing mother needs to be in an environment conducive to oxytocin (think warm, dimly lit, calm, quiet, safe and unwatched). Remembering too, that some mums will go through a “resting” phase during labour, whereby her body needs a break to recharge and prepare for the imminent birth. If mum is in a conducive environment and that resting phase has been respected the “fetal ejection reflex” should it occur, then mum will be feeling the “urge to push”.
The sound of a mum feeling that urge, is a primal, guttural and deep noise, sometimes called “mooing”! I remember the birth of my third baby, having been a Daisy teacher for a few years, thinking I am not doing my “ouuuut” breath. I was kind of yodelling, but a deep, throaty sound was coming out, and my baby was coming out whether I wanted him to or not! There was nothing in this world I could have done to stop that happening!!
So when we use the ouuut breath, we are focussing that breath out downwards, we are harnessing that energy and using it to help our bodies open, help relax and open our lower abdominals and pelvic floor and help our baby move down and out. Second stage needs an element of adrenalin, we can feel that adrenalin (shaking, feeling scared, heart rate increasing). It's really important to control that (how? Breathing!) At second stage you can feel your baby very low down and that feeling can be over whelming. There can be an instinct to “hold” on to the baby, to close the muscles and tighten to stop the descent, using the out breath you are encouraging that relax and open!
Although we cannot always plan and control exactly the birth or our breathing, by understanding more about the processes of birth and how breathing can help we can feel confident in letting our bodies do what nature intended.
If you would like to know about Daisy Birthday and the antenatal classes we teach at Mummas & Beans in Cranleigh, Godalming, Guildford and Horsham please click here.