Belly breathing is a practice we recommend to our pregnant patients as a way to relieve tension and prepare for birth.
In pregnancy, we tend to “run out of room” in our bellies and that affects how we breathe.
When this happens, we find we breathe more up in our chest and our shoulders and less down in our belly. Belly breathing is important because it allows our diaphragm to go through its full range of motion, and that’s part of how we stabilize our core. Watch the video below for a visual explanation of belly breathing, or read on!
How to belly breathe:
Take an easy seat or lie down on your back
Place your hands right on top of your belly button
Take a deep breath in; notice as your diaphragm moves down, you should see your belly expand out into your hands.
Breathe out; notice your hands moving back in.
Continue 5-10 minutes, preferably every day.
Tip: If you notice your hands are not moving and you are breathing up in your chest, mentally assign your breath a color—like blue. As you breathe in, imagine the color blue filling your lungs and moving down towards your belly. With every breath in, try to move the breath down a little further until you feel your hands on your belly moving.
Because of the fascial attachments throughout the entire core, keeping this full range of motion helps to alleviate tension and actually can effect baby’s
position—and therefore your labor and birth!
This is also a great practice to support healing and recovery postpartum, and it's never too early to prepare for that time.