**The following is part of a series of posts detailing the information in my free download Connect With Your Baby A-Z!.
Listen to the sound of each breath as you inhale... then exhale.
Feel each breath.
Your breath is one of the best tools you have for coping with the intensity of labor. Breath can be used to energize you if you feel like you need a pick-me-up. It can also be used to calm you down if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, worried, etc. The good news is that your breath is ALWAYS with you, so you don't have to worry about forgetting it when you pack your birth bag!
Breath Awareness is not your mother's Birth Breathing!
Forget the patterned breathing that is often seen in movies; the he-he-he-hoo-hoo-hoo breathing that many people associate with birth. No. Breath Awareness is simply that.... being aware of your breath. It is just being aware of what your breath is doing at any given moment. You don't have to change it; you don't have to master a certain pattern; you don't have to remember anything. You just focus and notice what your breath is doing naturally.
Breath Awareness is a great practice to cultivate BEFORE you go into labor so it won't feel foreign to you when you are in the middle of contractions. Making Breath Awareness a daily practice, will not only serve you in labor, but throughout parenthood as well!
Make Breath Awareness a part of your childbirth preparation
On your next exhale, notice your breath. Notice how it sounds, notice how it feels leaving your body. Don't do anything to change it, just notice where it is.
Do the same with the next inhale....
With every inhale and exhale, bring your focus and awareness solely to each breath.
Close your eyes.
Focus only on the breath.
Feel it fill your belly..... your chest.....
Feel it slowly leave your body.
Let the sounds and distractions around you fade as the focus on your breath increases.
Now...Slowly bring your awareness back to your surroundings.
How do you feel now? Different? More relaxed? More energized? What did you notice about yourself? Was it hard? Easy? Did your mind quiet down or did the chatter ramp up?
There is no right or wrong way to do this.... just listen and feel your breath.
You can do this practice anywhere. In fact, the more stressed or distracted you are, the more it will be like labor, so don't shy away from these moment. Chances are you might find you already do this when you are in stressful situations. I encourage you, both in times of stress and in times of relaxation, to practice Breath Awareness throughout your week.
In the comments let us know what worked for you. What did you notice about yourself as you practiced Breath Awareness?
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mezdeathhead/3163117585/">Mez Love</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>