Anatural birth is, if possible, preferable to a C-section. Studies show that children who come to the world through a C-section can get breathing difficulties and run a higher risk than other children to develop asthma and allergies such as eczema and hay fever. In a Dutch study on 2,917 eight-year old’s, asthma was found to be much more common among the children born through a C-section as opposed to natural vaginal birth. –We conclude that Caesarean section is a risk factor to the child to develop asthma and the risks are even greater if the parents are allergic. Another study shows that C-section led to increased risk of food allergies.
It has long been known that the lungs of a mammal are the last organ to develop in the uterus before it is time for the fetus to get out. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the lungs begin to secrete a protein, SP-A, which tells they are fully developed. This substance launches a cascade of reactions that affects the mother and the contractions begin.
The initiation of the contractions are carefully planned not to start until the fetus is sufficiently developed to survive outside the uterus on its own. In a planned C-section it is not certain that the lungs are fully developed, as it is difficult to predict exactly when the actual birth would have taken place. More information about SP-A can be found in this study.
The stress hormones of a
newborn baby are sky-high
Our entrance to this life from the uterus is dramatic and one of the biggest challenges of our lives. From the protected environment in the womb the baby meets a whole new world full of sounds, light and cold air and should at the same time shift from inactive lungs and automatic nutrition and oxygen through the umbilical cord, to all of a sudden breathe and eat on its own.
Stress hormones of a newborn baby are sky-high, which is a big advantage when the first breath is taken. The struggle to come out through the narrow birth canal contributes to both the high stress hormone levels and also to the lungs squeezing together so that the fluids come out. During C-sections the stress hormones are not as high as the chest is not compressed nor are the lung fluids emptied.
Therefore, babies born through C-section or born too early need to be extra monitored on how they breathe, both awake and while sleeping. Mouth breathing, breathing apneas and irregular breathing is particularly common in babies born too early.
Fears and preeclampsia
are common causes
In Sweden about 16 – 18% of babies are born through C-section and just under half of them are planned. In USA more than 30 of the deliveries are done via C-section. Common causes for a planned C-section could be for example fear of labor or preeclampsia. Symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, difficult headache, eyes flickering, cramps, pain in the upper part of the stomach (under the rib cage where the diaphragm is) and breathlessness from water in the lungs. All of the symptoms of preeclampsia have a close connection to impaired breathing habits.
During anxiety and fears the breathing is often shallow and fast or we hold our breath. When we move the breathing up into the chest and hold our breath it’s like we, with the help of our breathing, run away from our fears, that often are situated in the stomach area. If we continue these impaired breathing habits we give the fears room to grow and become even bigger over time.
In emergency Cesarean sections,
lactate concentrations are high
The other half of C-sections are of an emergency nature. Giving birth is an enormous effort that requires a lot of oxygen and place a great demand on effective breathing. If the breathing is impaired it will lead to oxygen deficiency and thus higher lactate concentrations. At Södersjukhuset in Sweden, chief physician dr. Eva Itzel-Wiberg, measured the lactate concentrations in the amniotic fluids and found a clear connection between high lactate concentrations and prolonged labor and/or C-sections. The lactate concentrations increases when the uterus suffers from oxygen deficiency during labour, which reduces the uterus ability to contract and can result in a prolonged delivery.
Every fifth labor in Sweden is today prolonged due to ineffective contractions. In USA the. When the labor is prolonged both the mother and baby are exhausted and the risk of infections and other complications increases for the mother and the risk of oxygen deficit increases for the baby.
Can C-section be avoided
with breathing training?
A lot of women are at risk of developing impaired breathing habits. During pregnancy and labor it is of great help to make sure the breathing is low, slow, small, rhythmic and relaxed as often as posible. A good way of achieving a good breathing during pregnancy is to use these five tools of Conscious Breathings:
- Train with The Relaxator Breathing Retrainer
- Do physical activity with closed mouth
- Be conscious of your breathing in different situations in your day to day life
- Tape your mouth at night to make sure you only breathe through the nose
- Do physical exercises to ensure the airways are kept open and well functioning
By letting the breathing help during labor the woman can a) feel more safe so that she more effectively can keep stress and fears under control, b) oxygenate the muscles that are active during the contractions in the most optimal way, c) recover faster between the contractions and d) reduce the perceived pain that is enhanced when you tense up/breathe shallow/hold your breath.
Learn more about your current breathing habits by answering the 20 questions in the Breathing and Health Index.
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