Pregnant Breathing: Lateral Thoracic Breathing

The pregnant body goes through miraculous changes to support the even more miraculous human being growing inside of the womb. One of those changes is in the respiratory system.

At rest the amount of air breathed increases by 40-50% or more because of an increase in the depth of each breath. This is a result of elevated levels of progesterone, which initiates over-breathing, by increasing the sensitivity of the respiratory center in the brain to carbon dioxide. (Dr. Clapp, 28)

In addition to these system changes, are the physical changes happening within the torso. As the uterus expands upward, the diaphragm is pushed upward (along with the other organs in the way such as the stomach and colon) and the ribcage expands. This is why Lateral Thoracic Breathing is beneficial, allowing for efficiency of breath. 

How to Breath Efficiently:

First we want to make sure that mom-to-be has her ribs lined up properly with the pelvis-that she is not thrusting, or pushing the bottom ribs out, which is more common during pregnancy. To fix thrusting ribs, close the ribs down, as we cue in Pilates. Now we are ready to breath.

1. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)
– Back and sides of the ribs should expand
– Allow the chest to rise

2.  Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs like your deflating a balloon

– Lengthen Spine
– Back of the ribs should pull back in
– Belly sinks back further – Hugging the baby to your spine

Lateral Thoracic Breathing Handout Complimentary PDF

Why Lateral Thoracic Breathing?

-to create space in your torso for your growing baby by lengthening your spine and stretching the ribcage. 

-to take more efficient breaths providing more oxygen for you and baby, 

-to relieve stress by calming the nervous system.

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Alison Marsh


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