And breathe…

Sim­ple breath­ing ex­er­cises can trans­form your preg­nancy, help­ing with ev­ery­thing from morn­ing sick­ness to de­liv­er­ing a wel­come burst of en­ergy

Mother & Baby (UK) - - CONTENTS - Aimee Hart­ley is a breath coach and mum-oftwo, who runs Trans­for­ma­tional Breath ses­sions and re­treats; @breath­inghub, in­spi­ra­tion

Sim­ple breath­ing ex­er­cises that will trans­form your preg­nancy

Mid­wives will ex­tol the power of breath­ing dur­ing labour, but breath­ing ex­er­cises can bring you in­cred­i­ble ben­e­fits right now, im­prov­ing your mood and phys­i­cal health, sooth­ing back pain and morn­ing sick­ness, and re­duc­ing sleep­less­ness and anx­i­ety. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s per­fect for preg­nancy! ‘We take 20,000 breaths a day,’ says breath­ing coach Aimee Hart­ley. ‘It’s the only sys­tem in the body that is both au­to­matic and un­der our con­trol at the same time. And we can play with our breath­ing to change our state: we can move from anx­ious to calm in 10 deep breaths, or we can go from slug­gish to en­er­gised in 20 dy­namic breaths. We can use it to change how we feel, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally.’

And right now, as your body is grow­ing a brand-new life, breath­ing is vi­tally im­por­tant. When you be­came preg­nant, your breath­ing changed al­most in­stantly. And, no, you’re not imag­in­ing those feel­ings of breath­less­ness! Your body needs around 20 per cent more oxy­gen dur­ing preg­nancy to help your baby grow. And, as your baby gets big­ger and big­ger, you have less room to breathe. ‘Your uterus be­gins to grow when you are preg­nant,’ ex­plains Aimee. ‘This lies next to your di­aphragm – the mus­cle be­tween your lungs and your lower or­gans – which you use to breathe. As you breathe in, your di­aphragm de­scends, open­ing up an area for your lungs to ex­pand and al­low the air to come in. But the pres­sure from your grow­ing uterus makes it in­creas­ingly hard for this to hap­pen. So you’re us­ing more en­ergy to bring in the same amount of air.’

At the same time, the amount of air you move in and out of your lungs in­creases by al­most half dur­ing preg­nancy. In your first trimester, the hor­mone pro­ges­terone in­creases your lung ca­pac­ity, al­low­ing you to breathe up to 40 per cent more deeply dur­ing preg­nancy. So each breath con­tains a larger vol­ume of air, and your breath­ing rate also in­creases. It may take you a while to get used to these changes, which is why you might have felt short of breath in the first 12 weeks of preg­nancy, too (if you are short of breath all the time, speak to your GP).

Sim­ple breath­ing ex­er­cises will help you em­brace all of these changes, as well as help you to over­come all sorts of nig­gles, aches and pains, to have a healthy and happy preg­nancy. Over the next few pages, you’ll find ex­er­cises that tackle par­tic­u­lar prob­lems when you’ve got a grow­ing bump. Start with whichever one you feel will help you most right now, and you might be sur­prised just how ef­fec­tive it is. Af­ter all, sim­ply by read­ing these words, we’re guess­ing you’ve be­come more aware of your breath­ing and are al­ready tak­ing slower, deeper breaths…

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