EASY BREATH­ING EX­ER­CISES..

Re­lax and bond bet­ter with your baby

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS - BY DE­B­JANI SENGUPTA ARORA

Dif­fer­ent prac­ti­tion­ers have dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to­wards med­i­ta­tion. While Dr Sne­hal Shah, home­opath and ad­vanced clin­i­cal hyp­nother­a­pist uses the above-men­tioned tech­niques to prac­tise med­i­ta­tion, Dr Geetanjali Shah, Mum­baibased pae­di­a­tri­cian helps her pa­tients to fol­low a step-by-step ap­proach for ev­ery trimester. “The first three months are very stress­ful as many women feel low and fa­tigued very soon. Re­lax­ation, through cor­rec­tive breath­ing, helps them re­gain their en­ergy lev­els and also con­trol morn­ing sick­ness, nau­sea and other symp­toms,” says Dr Geetanjali. The White Light Tech­nique of vi­su­al­i­sa­tion is taught dur­ing the sec­ond trimester. “Here, ex­pec­tant mum is made to lie on her back in a quiet place and breathe evenly, which would set in waves of re­lax­ation through the body. Next, she is en­cour­aged to vi­su­alise a white light en­ter­ing her left leg and sooth­ing her foot, calves, thighs and re­lax­ing them. The same is ad­vised for the right leg. Next, af­fir­ma­tions are sent across to feel that the light as­cends through her body and en­light­ens the en­tire be­ing,” ex­plains Dr Geetanjali. In this state of trance, the mother is asked to con­nect and talk to the baby. “We ask the mother to tell her baby, ‘You are blessed and have blessed me with ma­ter­nity. I pray that you de­velop phys­i­cally, men­tally and spir­i­tu­ally’. Slowly, tak­ing deep breaths, the mother con­cludes the 15-minute re­lax­ation tech­nique,” says Dr Geetanjali. The third trimester deals more with man­ag­ing labour, where af­fir­ma­tions are sent across while med­i­tat­ing. “We ask the mother to say to her­self, ‘My baby is grow­ing right’; ‘My baby is do­ing fine and de­scend­ing slowly.’ Such af­fir­ma­tions are sent across to avoid pre-term labour and in­duce a safe birth,” says Dr Geetanjali.

The mother is also en­cour­aged to talk to the baby and lis­ten to what the baby ex­pects out of her. These af­fir­ma­tions are sent across to train the mind to work in a pos­i­tive way. “Re­peated af­fir­ma­tions make the mind be­lieve and ac­cept them as truth. As the mind has an im­pact on the body and its func­tions, train­ing the mind with the pos­i­tive in­puts helps the body to cope bet­ter and the baby to feel good in the womb,” says Dr Sne­hal.

WHAT IT DOES

Stud­ies sug­gest that prac­tis­ing med­i­ta­tion for 15 to 20 min­utes a day can have the fol­low­ing ef­fects dur­ing preg­nancy: Med­i­ta­tion in­creases the pro­duc­tion of en­dor­phins, small protein mol­e­cules se­creted by the ner­vous sys­tem and other parts of the body. “These en­dor­phins help to re­duce phys­i­cal pain and also help in pain-man­age­ment dur­ing labour, if prac­tised reg­u­larly,” says Dr Sne­hal. Stress can in­crease the pro­duc­tion of hor­mones such as adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol. Ex­ces­sive se­cre­tion of adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol in­hibits the pro­duc­tion of oxy­tocin, a hor­mone that ini­ti­ates labour. Also, higher stress lev­els can re­sult in in­crease of blood pres­sure, blood sugar lev­els and also set the stage for ges­ta­tional di­a­betes. Deep breath­ing through med­i­ta­tion can help re­duce the stress and keep the hor­mones in check. It soothes the mind to sta­bilise the mood and also ini­ti­ates bet­ter sleep. This in turn keeps the en­ergy lev­els up. It also helps in in­creased milk pro­duc­tion and pre­vents post­par­tum de­pres­sion. It low­ers blood pres­sure and heart rate and hence helps to de­crease the in­ci­dence of pre-eclamp­sia.

HYP­NO­SIS: WAKE UP TO SLEEP

Hyp­no­sis, like med­i­ta­tion, height­ens the level of one’s aware­ness su­per­fi­cially re­sem­bling a sleep state. The aim of hyp­nother­apy is to make the sub­con­scious mind ac­tive by send­ing out vo­cal af­fir­ma­tive com­mands. “Stud­ies say that the mind is made up of the con­scious mind and the sub­con­scious mind, where 12 per cent of the mind com­prises the con­scious mind and the re­main­ing 88 per cent is the sub­con­scious mind,” says Dr Sne­hal. This also means that at any given time, only 12 per cent of the brain is used by an in­di­vid­ual. “One can tap the en­ergy of the sub­con­scious mind through hyp­no­sis. Dur­ing preg­nancy, this higher state of con­scious­ness helps the mother to imag­ine the pos­i­tive com­mands sent across by the prac­ti­tioner and ac­cept them as a re­al­ity. This cre­ates a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for the foe­tus to grow and sur­vive in the womb,” says Dr Sne­hal. The mind has an ef­fect on the phys­i­cal body. “You do not re­alise this, but your thought process and state of mind af­fect the baby in the womb, who learns to pick up emo­tions and moods from the mother,” she says. Self-hyp­no­sis prac­tised at home by preg­nant women does have a lot of pos­i­tive ef­fects, but it is ad­vised to learn the ba­sics from a prac­ti­tioner who can guide you on the method. “The first step of hyp­no­sis is to re­lax and fo­cus on breath­ing with the help of re­lax­ing mu­sic and ver­bal in­struc­tions. Here, you are made to sit com­fort­ably on a chair or lie down on the floor. Once the mind is calm, rhyth­mic breath­ing like in­hal­ing with three counts and ex­hal­ing with three counts is en­cour­aged. This is fol­lowed by pro­gres­sive re­lax­ation of the mind and the body from head to foot,” ex­plains Dr Sne­hal. Once you are re­laxed and at ease, var­i­ous ver­bal com­mands are sent across at this point to fa­cil­i­tate your sub­con­scious mind. “Cer­tain hyp­notic tech­niques are used to awaken the sub­con­scious mind and re­verse count­ing is the most com­mon. This helps you to reach a hy­per sug­gestible state, where the mind is most re­cep­tive and re­spon­sive. Your mind is now pro­grammed with auto sug­ges­tions, send­ing af­fir­ma­tions and you are asked to re­peat them. This helps you to con­nect with the baby and de­velop the emo­tional bond­ing,” she says. Dif­fer­ent ver­bal com­mands are sent across dur­ing each trimester. “For ex­am­ple, we say, ‘feel your baby grow­ing and breath­ing in the first trimester’. Or for the last trimester, you will be urged to vi­su­alise play­ing with your baby,” says Dr Sne­hal. The last stage of the ses­sion in­volves com­mands that help you to vi­su­alise that you’re go­ing through a healthy and safe labour. This makes you more con­fi­dent and pre­pares you to deal with the labour which con­se­quently re­sults in a safe child­birth. Af­ter this en­tire process, the mother is urged to re­peat the sug­ges­tion and is then brought out of the hyp­no­sis. The en­tire process takes about 40 to 45 min­utes. Once this tech­nique is taught to you and re­in­forced two-three times, it can be prac­tised by you at home.

For skep­tics, Dr Sne­hal says that hyp­no­sis is noth­ing like what is por­trayed in films or tele­vi­sion. “In fact, even though you are taken to a higher psy­cho­log­i­cal state, your brain is most ac­tive and hence, is ca­pa­ble of tak­ing in all the sug­ges­tions re­peated to you. It is like feed­ing a pro­gramme into a com­puter mem­ory to achieve tar­get re­sults. Sim­i­larly, once the mind is pro­grammed and pre­pared, the body func­tions ac­cord­ingly,” she ex­plains.

HOW IT WORKS

First stage of labour: The se­cret of re­lax­ation dur­ing the first stage of labour is max­i­mum ex­ha­la­tion. Breathe in for the count of four sec­onds or as con­ve­nient and slowly breathe out for dou­ble the count. Re­peat this process when­ever the con­trac­tion is felt in the first stage of labour, while open­ing of the mouth of the cervix or di­lat­ing. An al­ter­na­tive to this process would be to breathe in air and breathe out recit­ing ‘aum’. You would feel re­laxed and at peace with your­self with the sim­ple breath­ing. At times, breath­ing in through the nose and ex­hal­ing through the mouth also helps. But re­mem­ber, re­tain­ing the breath and thrash­ing with anx­i­ety and clutch­ing onto things can cause ten­sion, ex­haus­tion and dis­com­fort. Pe­ri­od­i­cally breathe out to ‘let go’. Sec­ond stage of labour: The sec­ond stage of labour starts when the mouth of the uterus (the cervix) is di­lated com­pletely. This is the time to ac­tively push the baby out and not be­fore that. When you ex­pe­ri­ence the con­trac­tion, take a breath, hold it and push down hard. Con­tinue this ex­er­cise till the con­trac­tion lasts. If ex­hausted, breath from the nose and ex­hale from your mouth. Be more fo­cused with these breath­ing tech­niques in the sec­ond stage as this is the only way you can help your baby to come out. Con­tinue blow­ing till the baby is out. Af­ter the con­trac­tion passes, you can re­lax and con­tinue with ab­dom­i­nal breath­ing. Third stage of labour: This is the state of com­plete re­lax­ation and bliss. Breathe nor­mally. The pla­centa comes out and sep­a­rates within five to 15 min­utes and a slight uter­ine con­trac­tion may be felt dur­ing this pe­riod as the pla­centa slips out.

WHAT IT DOES

Prac­tis­ing hyp­no­sis can have var­ied ben­e­fits. Some of them are as fol­lows: The breath­ing tech­niques and af­fir­ma­tions sent across re­laxes the body and mind, helps in min­imis­ing the re­sponse to fear and pain of labour. Since hyp­no­sis de­picts an aroused state of aware­ness, it makes the mother more en­er­gised and in con­trol of her­self dur­ing labour to ini­ti­ate a smooth de­liv­ery. It makes one more re­spon­sive to the uter­ine con­trac­tions, due to to­tal re­lax­ation through­out the birthing process. It helps to de­liver in a calm and peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment, which means ba­bies would be more calmer and alert in their fu­ture. Stops rapid blood loss. It lessens the com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing labour, with fewer in­ter­ven­tions low­ers blood pres­sure.

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