Pregnancy Yoga

How Yoga breathing helps during labour


The mechanics of Labour are governed by several hormones:

  1. OXYTOCIN – The ‘love’ hormone
  2. ADRENALINE – Part of the ‘Fight or Flight’ response, the physiological response to stress
  3. ENDORPHINS – The body’s natural pain killers

Oxytocin stimulates contractions and the flow of Labour.
The more loved, safe and looked after you feel the higher your Oxytocin levels.

However, the action of Oxytocin is affected by Adrenaline.

Adrenaline is produced in the body at times when you are scared or worried. Labour can be stressful and the consequent production of adrenalin can cause your contractions to stop, or to be less effective, or to feel more painful.


How Yogic breathing helps.

The breathing techniques we use in Yoga to help with Labour involve increasing the length of your exhalation.
Slowing down the out breath triggers the Parasympathetic Nervous System and calms down the stress response (the ‘fight or flight’ response).

This in turn leads to a reduction in Adrenaline and an increase in Oxytocin.

An added benefit of ‘switching on’ the Parasympathetic Nervous System is that it encourages the release of Endorphins that help us to manage pain.

Slowing down the breathing to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system is a technique we can use during Labour, but it can also be very effective at any time when you feel anxious or stressed; it can even be used to help manage panic attacks.


How your partner can help

  • Encourage you to continue your long out breaths through contractions.
  • Help create a relaxed environment.
  • Provide loving support.

from Resources, posted February 2020


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