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One of the systems that are altered during pregnancy is the respiratory system. Due to anatomical, mechanical and hormonal changes, gas exchange is disturbed, causing a decreased lung capacity.
The uterus enlarges causing the diaphragm to remain in the expiratory position, that is, it does not descend enough during inspiration and is raised about 4 cm. It also increases by about 2 cm in the anteroposterior and transverse diameters with a widening of the ribs, thus increasing the rib cage by 5 to 7 cm. The respiratory center is modified by progesterone, causing hyperventilation due to an increase in inspiratory capacity of 5-10 percent and fatigue due to activity.
The pregnant woman must perform controlled respiratory exercises to ensure good gas exchange and thus eliminate acidosis that causes muscle pain in the mother and decreased oxygen supply to the fetus. Breathing exercises increase lung capacity, focus attention during labor, and allow the mother to relax during contractions to better focus effort during pushing. Breathing exercises also increase the secretion of endorphins, the hormones of happiness, which leads to well-being for the mother and a decrease in anxiety.
These exercises can be done from the first moment and in any position. The benefits of performing breathing exercises are:
1. Increased alveolar ventilation to maintain adequate gas exchange.
2. The restoration of the diaphragm to its normal function as the main respiratory muscle.
3. The restoration of well coordinated and efficient breathing to decrease respiratory effort.
Abdominal breathingFirst, take a deep breath through your nose and notice your lungs fill as your abdomen slowly swells. Then progressively breathe out through your mouth, while contracting your diaphragm muscles. Repeat about 15 times.
Chest breathingIt is about bringing the air to the lower part of the ribs, trying to increase the rib diameter without taking the air to the abdomen. In order to have a greater control of targeting, it is useful to wrap a ribbon around the ribs (bathrobe belt) crossing the ends and press a little on the ribs holding the ends with both hands. This pressure will give us the information of where the air has to be taken. This exercise can be repeated about 15 times.
Breath "puff".Slow nasal inspiration directed to the diaphragm. We retain the air for a few seconds and expel it, blowing hard enough to knock down the flame of the candle without extinguishing it. We can increase the distance between the mouth and the candle over time. This respiration increases the expiratory capacity which will cause a good elimination of CO2 and toxins and a rich supply of O2 in the following inspiration. Repeat 15 times.
Practicing yoga, Pilates, or antepartum exercises, will give the woman a knowledge of her body and breathing necessary during pregnancy and will prepare her to face a childbirth with tranquility and low levels of anxiety.
Marián Zamora Saborit
Physiotherapist. Pilates Technician
Psychomotor in Early Childhood Education
Contributor to our site
Marián Zamora's blog
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