The Power of the Breath

by | Dec 6, 2022 | News

Ellen Gray Hypnobirthing

Honley’s hypnobirthing coach Ellen Gray, of Ellen Gray Hypnobirthing, knows just how much power the breath holds. Here she explains how by learning to breath more calmly, your breath can help you through the different stages of labour.

And with Christmas fast approaching, Ellen has shared a simple, calm breathing exercise that can be used not just in pregnancy and labour, but for anyone who is looking for calm and inner peace during what is commonly perceived to be the busiest time of year.

The Power of The Breath

I am Ellen, a hypnobirthing coach, supporting women and birthing people to have a positive birth experience. Your birth is more than just one day, it is the start of a lifelong parenting journey.

I firmly believe that you and your baby deserve to start this journey from your most empowered and confident place.

In my hypnobirthing course, I will teach you how to connect with and use your breath in different ways throughout your labour and birth.

The thing I really love about this is that once you start to use your breath more consciously, you will find that it can help in so many other areas of your life. It really is your best friend throughout your parenting journey.

Voluntary and Involuntary Breath

But we all breathe all the time, so what’s the big deal?

Yes, we do, but breathing is both a voluntary and an involuntary function. The involuntary breath keeps us alive, whereas the voluntary breath is when we bring our full awareness to the breath and notice how it changes in different situations. Have you noticed how your breath is when you watch a horror movie compared to a beautiful sunrise?

When we are scared or stressed, our breath is shallow and fast. We are activating our ‘sympathetic nervous system’, known as our ‘flight or fight system’. It triggers a response in our brain which sends out the hormone ‘adrenaline’. Adrenaline helps us to flee the real or perceived danger (our brains don’t actually know the difference). This evolutionary system has helped us to survive and flourish as a species, but when it is overactivated it can be problematic, particularly during labour.


Letting Go of Misconception and Fear

Often in life we gather thoughts in our conscious and subconscious mind that birth can be scary and risky. We may hold a lot of misconceptions or fears around it. This can lead to that exact stress response being triggered. Our uterus muscles tense up and work less efficiently. Our breath will shorten, we lose oxygen in our bloodstream and we are filled with a sense of panic, overwhelm and loss of control in our thoughts.

When we breathe properly and consciously however, we activate the opposite response. A network of nerves, known as our ‘parasympathetic nervous system’, relaxes our body and a ‘rest and repair mode’ promotes inner calm and physical relaxation. This allows the muscles of the uterus to relax and get on with their job of contracting and birthing more efficiently. It leaves our mind free to focus on our breath and inner calm.

Calm Breathing Exercise

There are many breathing techniques that I show you in my antenatal course for the different stages of labour, but this calm breathing exercise is one of my favourites.

I recommend it for early and active labour and for any stressful situations you may encounter in your everyday life.

When fear tightens you up, use this breath to release, let go and centre yourself again.

  • Begin by bringing your attention to your shoulders and neck and gently soften them. Let your shoulders drop and your facial muscles soften.
  • Now breathe in for a count of four through your nose. Feel the breath going down towards your diaphragm. Notice your stomach rise.
  • Gently and softly exhale out through your mouth for a count of seven. Allow any tension to flow out of your body along with the breath.

Simple right? But so effective. I urge everyone to practise this breath every day – in any small moments of peace through to minor stresses such as traffic jams and supermarket queues. That way, it will be well rehearsed and ready for you to use when it’s needed most.

Hypnobirthing Skills for Life

Hypnobirthing is a full antenatal course. Ellen Gray Hypnobirthing covers everything from understanding your mind and body connection to learning how to create more space in your pelvis for your baby to descend more efficiently. I talk you through the positives and negatives of interventions, your birthing options and choices, and so much more.

I hold private one to one hypnobirthing classes in the calming space of kynd in Honley or in the comfort of your own home.

If you would like to feel fully prepared and confident to achieve the positive birth experience that you deserve, then drop me an email.

Ellen Gray, of Ellen Gray Hypnobirthing