Importance Of Diaphragmatic Breathing In Pregnancy
by Olivia Cagle
There are many benefits to diaphragmatic breathing….especially in pregnancy. Learning to use the diaphragm muscle to its fullest potential is probably the most significant change that a pregnant woman can make to encourage her own health, and the health of her unborn child. I am going to try not to get to scientific here. 🙂
The diaphragm is the primary respiratory muscle (along with the external intercostals which elevate the ribs). It attaches to the bottom of
the lungs and acts to pull the lungs open by increasing the vertical, lateral, and anteriorposterior space of the thoracic cavity. As the diaphragm draws air deep inside, lifegiving oxygen and ions come with it, placing the diaphragm highest in the hierarchy of importance to the body.
Breathing via the diaphragm is so important that it cannot be overstated as a foundational necessity. Breathing affects the mechanics of the spine and the pumping system of the body. It is the subtle pump for cerebrospinal fluid and the gross pump of organ massage and digestive motility and lymph flow, which affect immunity, nutrient and waste exchange. Diaphragmatic breathing is a regulator of pH balance in the body, which
affects the biochemistry, which affects the hormonal system, which can affect the mentalemotional-cognitive balance of the client. Breathing is a master regulator of the human condition.
Whew…that’s alot to take in! 🙂 Try to hang with me a bit longer.
Proper movement of the diaphragm is critical to stimulate proper function in the entire musculoskeletal system, gastro-intestinal system, hormonal system and central nervous system. It is therefore the foundation of where I start to train my clients.
It has been scientifically well established that deep breathing has the power to return you to a calm state. Deep diaphragmatic breathing sends signals to stop producing stress hormones. As the critical muscle for deep breathing, the diaphragm is also the critical muscle for destressing.
Why Diaphragmatic Breathing In Pregnancy Is Important
Learning to strengthen the diaphragm muscle is invaluable for pregnant moms who want to feel better, live healthier, and birth healthier babies.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Helps Deal With Stress
Unborn children feel every emotion that mom feels, for better and for worse. Nervousness about a work deadline tosses baby a handful of “nervousness” in the form of chemicals, hormones, and energy. Mom’s anger at friends or family injects “angry” chemicals. Fear about gaining too much weight during pregnancy will shower baby in chemicals for “fear” all pregnancy long. If that stressful response remains too long, the fetus will chronically develop within an environment not optimally suited for growth of tissues and nerves. Research over the last five decades has clearly shown that chronic exposure to stress hormones creates an environment that hinders cell growth.
By stopping the release of stress chemistry, hormones and energy, deep breathing can maximize the physical, emotional, and mental attributes for the unborn baby, enriching his or her life for years. Any pregnant woman who benefits from strengthening her diaphragm and her breathing
passes those benefits to her growing baby. There are other ways to deal with stress but this is one way I wanted to mention…diaphragmatic breathing in pregnancy is beneficial for many things.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Increases Nutrients and Decreases Toxins
More than twenty thousand times each day, the diaphragm muscle is supposed to rhythmically massage the organs of the body. The massage gently encourages blood flow, lymph flow, nutrient delivery, and waste removal in the organs and all tissues of the body, including tissues in the womb. Fast growing cells, especially, demand the most nutrient supply. The fastest growing group of cells in the pregnant body is the baby. A diaphragm that is not strong enough to travel deep into the organs as it was designed cannot fully perform its duty in waste removal.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Is Important For Muscle Balance
Diaphragmatic dysfunction is the starting point of many muscle imbalances. The diaphragm is also the most important muscle of the core and is responsible for maintaining appropriate intra-abdominal pressure, a primary ingredient to a functional core.
Benefits of diaphragmatic breathing are sometimes immediate for the pregnant mom (it was for me). It is not uncommon that a few focused minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing can alleviate her low back pain. The contraction of the diaphragm actually decompresses the spine and increases fluid exchange in the lumbar spinal discs.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Helps With Shortness Of Breath
Especially in the later stages of pregnancy, many pregnant women experience shortness of breath with seemingly no solution. A de-conditioned diaphragm causes shortness of breath because the muscle is not strong enough to gently push through the resistance of the organs and baby. In order to fully inhale throughout pregnancy, the diaphragm must remain strong enough to gently nudge the growing uterus and newly compressed organs out of the way. This should be natural and automatic.
I could go on to tell you more, but I think that will do for now. 🙂 I will continue to post on the importance of diaphragmatic breathing in pregnancy later. This gives you a brief overview of it.
If you have any questions about diaphragmatic breathing, please let me know! I would love to answer any questions you may have!
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