One of the biggest difficulties I face almost daily, with patients, is this;
I suggest that they learn to pay attention to the physical experience of breathing and learn to alter the breathing pattern in a certain way.
They say this – “how can a fancy breathing exercise make a difference? – I know how to breathe, thank you”.
Take a look at the post called ‘Anxiety Demands Attention to Breathing’: it explains that when you pay attention to your breathing you will enhance the very connectivity in the brain that can change your anxious state.
When you pay attention to your breathing you are making contact with your own unconscious and fundamental body programming.
You can only change unhelpful automatic body habits if you make contact with that part of you that’s in control. That part of you is in the unconscious brain.
If you learn to;
– slow your breath
– allow the exhalation phase to dominate
– gradually train yourself to be able to hold your breath out for longer and longer…
then your adrenaline levels will fall, your nervous system will settle, you’ll feel less anxious, you’ll feel more grounded and present, your immune system and hormonal system will function better.
So, about pregnancy and foetal health:
Our nervous and hormonal systems are primitive biological ones. A hormone system in the body of a chronically anxious woman may not be able to carry a child easily because it is designed to do this only when she and her tribe can create the conditions for safe and calm pregnancy, birth and child-raising. That is, when it is calm and settled.
The reproductive system is not optimum when woman and tribe are stressed – fearing animal attack, short of food or shelter, etc. No – I know we don’t fear wild animal attack. But the stresses of modern life, shall we say, activate this same adrenalised survival system; in a long-term grumbling way. This includes anxiety-type breathing patterns that maintain a low-grade ‘fight-and-flight’ state, profoundly altering body biochemistry and capable of inhibiting the hormonal profile necessary for successful pregnancy.
Re-training the breathing pattern is simply the best initial way-in to restore health.
So, now consider this letter I received recently from a patient:
Thought I’d let you know that Jane had a daughter in the early hours of Wednesday. Mum, baby and baby’s brother all doing well (dad also doing well).
As you know, Jane’s had several pregnancies but the two that have resulted in our lovely kids just happened to be the ones where you helped her in the early stages. She carried your advice on breathing right through to labour.
So I just wanted to say a massive thanks from us both for your help because I’m convinced it made the vital difference.
All the best,
Paul. (names changed)