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LATE PREGNANCY
Practicing yoga breathing, chanting, meditation, and visualization in late
pregnancy, on your own and, ideally, also with your birth partner,
attunes your nervous system, equips you with inner resources for
labor, and helps you enjoy this time of expectancy calmly, day by day.
DHYANA
BREATH, VISUALIZATION,
AND SOUND FOR BIRTH
BENEFITS
Breathing conserves energy, creates
rhythm in labor, and eases tension.
For a vaginal birth after a cesarean
(VBAC), joined and voiced
breathing smoothes tissues around
your scar and reconnects you with
your birthing muscles.
BIRTHING BREATHS
Relax in a comfortable position with your partner so
that both of you can place your hands over the baby,
generating harmony between the three of you. Under
this gentle pressure, your breathing deepens around the
birthing muscles without tensing other muscles. While
sitting with your partner, or on your own, practice the
This joint action
helps your partner
understand the
power of exhalation
as opposed to
forceful pushing
“Blowing a Feather” technique (p.85) to extend your
exhalation until you feel slight pressure in your lower
back, then around the perineum and birthing muscles.
This may take practice, so be patient. You will
recognize these sensations as your baby moves
through the birth canal.
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BREATH, VISUALIZATION, AND SOUND FOR BIRTH
ADVANCED PRACTICE
Relax in a semi-reclined position with knees bent and feet
hip-width apart. Target different muscles using voiced
breathing as if you are ready to give birth. A deep,
grunting “Huuh” activates the muscles of the perineum
that move the baby down the birth canal; “Hooh”
activates the uterine muscles. Practice relaxing your
buttock muscles using sounds. Repeated practice will help
you avoid tensing when you feel the powerful sensations
of labor, especially if this is your first birth.
Any positive visualization you can
practice may be a great help during
labor. Arrange 10 to 12 familiar
objects that appeal to you in a
circle. Sit comfortably then slowly
retrace the pattern, either
physically, using your hand, or
mentally. Once you know the
pattern well, close your eyes and
retrace it with your hand, touching
each object in the circle. When
you’ve retraced the pattern, exhale
to release tension. With practice,
you’ll be able to retrace it mentally
and can use this technique to
occupy your mind during
contractions, while adjusting your
breathing to the contraction.
Relax on a bed in a semi-reclined position with your legs
resting comfortably. Inhale and breathe out, making a long
sound. This may be an “Aaah” sound or a sound you
make without opening your mouth. Use either method
to explore different sounds until you can feel strong
vibrations beneath your hands while remaining relaxed.
VOICED BREATHING
VISUALIZATION
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LATE PREGNANCY
NECK ROLL
VOCAL POWER
Sit up, open your mouth, and let a sound emerge as
you exhale. If you do “om” chanting, separate the three
parts of om: “aaaa-oooo-mmmm.” Deepen your “aaaa”
and “oooo” by widening the mouth and expanding
resonance in the body. This empowering practice helps
stretch the perineum, calms, and eases pain in labor.
Relaxing your lower jaw helps you breathe more deeply
and so relaxes the pelvic muscles and perineum. Sit up
straight in a comfortable position. Inhale. As you exhale,
relax your lower jaw and slowly roll your neck to the
right in a semicircle. Inhale, bring your head to the
center, and turn to the left as you exhale. Do this often.
Avoid tensing your lower jaw as you produce a nasal
humming, like a bumble bee. Inhale and extend your
humming as long as possible. Practice regularly,
exploring variations on your humming each day. This
ancient yoga technique, known to alleviate anxiety, can
help you through the uncertainty of prelabor days.
Most women breathe through their mouth in late
pregnancy. Sucking in the air with your tongue between
your teeth during labor produces a pleasant cooling
effect in your mouth. This practice will refresh you,
particularly when contractions come fast and furious
and you must pace your breathing to stay centered.
HUMMING BREATH Bhramari
COOLING BREATH Sitkari Pranayama
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BREATH, VISUALIZATION, AND SOUND FOR BIRTH
MEDITATION
Whether you are experienced in yoga or
not, meditation may come easily to you in
labor. Being able to relax and surf strong
waves of contractions that bring the most
acute pain is preferable to resisting and
being engulfed by them. By focusing on
your breathing and letting go of fear, you
can access a quiet space in which you
remain connected with your baby and
your loved ones through the birthing
process. Repeat the simple mantra, “So
Ham” (“I am That”), as you breathe in
and out to maintain a clear focus.
MODIFYING MEDITATION
If it is more comfortable, kneel and
lean forward over a cushioned support
during your meditation practice.
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