Is Breathwork Safe During Pregnancy? Here’s What You Need to Know
Breathwork can be a beautiful experience during pregnancy and it can help you establish an extraordinary connection with the little one inside. However there are instances where it may not be safe for you and the baby and there are also certain precautions that can be taken to maximize safety. There is very little information available about Breathwork during pregnancy so we have created this article to help provide some clarity around this topic for both pregnant women & Breathwork Facilitators.
Before we share further, we need to explicitly state that you should ALWAYS talk to your healthcare provider before partaking in Breathwork if you are pregnant, on medications, or have any chronic health condition. We are not medical providers and the opinions in this article are just that – our opinions.
If you are a Facilitator we advise that you ensure your Breather has approval from their medical provider and as always, have them sign a waiver. If you feel any doubt or dis-ease about holding space for a pregnant breather we recommend you follow your intuition and err on the side of caution.
We also want to define Breathwork as it is not the same as pranayama and Breath practices, many of which can be extremely beneficial and completely safe even in the most delicate of pregnancies. Breathwork is the short form used for conscious, connected Breathwork (CCB) and it’s the breathing technique we use for our guided journeys here at Alchemy of Breath. It involves breathing deep connected breaths without a pause between the inhale and exhale for an extended period of time. This type of breathing charges the system with awareness, creates dramatic physiological changes in the body, and alters your state of consciousness, paving the way for rapid healing and transformation.
Now back to the big question: Is it safe to do Breathwork while pregnant?
Unfortunately there are very few scientific studies about Breathwork in general, and even less about Breathwork and pregnancy so we cannot give you a definitive answer. If you are pregnant only you can decide what is best for you and your baby, however there are 5 factors to consider which may help you with this decision.
Some Factors to Consider in Determining Whether Breathwork is Safe During Pregnancy:
- How far along is the pregnancy?
How many weeks along you are, is an important factor to consider. Because the first few months of pregnancy are considered high risk, and because of the deep physical connection between mother and fetus and the big emotions that can arise during Breathwork, it is best to avoid CCB in the early stages of pregnancy, and wait until you are at least 12-16 weeks along.
- Is it a delicate pregnancy?
If you have a delicate pregnancy it may be best to wait until after the baby is born to partake in Breathwork. There are several gentle breath practices that can be of benefit to you however, including heart coherence breathing, the box breath, and the hummingbird breath. A great book that is full of helpful breath practices for pregnancy and labor is: “The Art of Giving Birth: With Chanting, Breathing, and Movement,” by Frederick Leboyer.
- Do you have any pre-existing health conditions?
Breathwork is contraindicated for several health conditions including but not limited to: Bipolar, Schizophrenia, acute heart conditions, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, aneurysms, glaucoma, history of stroke, and the presence of severe psychiatric symptoms. There are also certain medications which can be contraindicated. If you have any pre-existing medical condition or are on any medications, you should always check with your healthcare provider before doing Breathwork (regardless of if you’re pregnant or not).
- Is your blood pressure in the normal range?
Breathwork can affect your blood pressure both because of the breathing technique itself, and also because of the strong emotions that can arise during a session., If your blood pressure drops too low it can cause extreme dizziness and make you feel faint; and if it goes too high it can prevent blood from flowing to the placenta; so if your levels are not in the normal range to begin with Breathwork may not be the best idea. As an FYI the normal range is 120/80 mmHg; under 90/60 is low and over 140/90 is considered high.
- Have you done Breathwork before?
Breathwork is unpredictable. It can lead to intense emotional releases which can be considered ‘extreme’ in nature. If you have done several Breathworks prior to your pregnancy you have likely worked through and released a lot of buried emotions and you may be better equipped to self-regulate during a Breathwork session. However if it is your first time, and especially if you have a history of trauma, an intense physical and emotional release may occur.
Some Precautions to Take While Pregnant
If your healthcare provider approves Breathwork, it’s important that you find a qualified Facilitator that can support you and that can continually reinforce feelings of safety and relaxation during your journey.
We recommend you breathe through the nose instead of the mouth. The reason for this is that Breathwork lowers the carbon dioxide levels (CO2), and CO2 is already low during pregnancy. The body needs to maintain a delicate balance of CO2 and oxygen at all times, and breathing through the nose can help to slightly reduce the drop in CO2 levels that occurs in Breahtowork.
We also recommend you maintain a slower pace, and keep the breaths deep but gentle. Set an intention before your Breathwork and instead of aiming for a major release or breakthrough, choose something that will promote ease such as connecting with the baby inside you, or cultivating inner peace and serenity. Relax into each breath and allow whatever wants to arise without resistance.
Set up a comfortable space for yourself, with pillows and blankets and bolsters if available to make your physical body as comfortable as possible. And choose a position that feels best for you. If you prefer sitting up, sit on a cushion or rolled up blanket, and if you need to lean against the wall, allow yourself to do so. You may find having your legs bent and knees touching adds extra support.
If lying down, you can start on your back with a blanket or pillow under your knees to support your lower back. You may also breathe on your side, and this can be especially beneficial if you are further along in the pregnancy. If you do so, having your bottom leg straight and top leg bent with a cushion underneath the tummy and bolster between the legs can maximize support and comfort.
If done in a safe container, with a qualified facilitator, and with your doctor’s approval, Breathwork can be a beautiful practice. It can not only connect you deeply to the little one, but also prepare your body for giving birth by teaching you how to relax and surrender. In most instances, it is best to maintain a slow, gentle breathing pattern and of course always follow the messages of your body and respect the guidance it is giving you.
We would like to thank Breathwork Facilitator extraordinaire Indri Hapsari for sharing her expertise on this topic and helping in the compilation of this informational piece. If you would like to work with Indri Hapsari directly, you can reach her on instagram: @healwithindri
Finally, if you’re pregnant and would like to embark on a powerful inner healing journey and gently let go of old traumas and ancestral baggage, so as not to pass them on to the baby we recommend the Alchemy Medication Course. This meditation does not include conscious, connected Breathwork so it is generally safe regardless of where you are in your pregnancy.
The Alchemy meditation focuses on connecting to body sensations in order to cultivate your Felt Sense – which is a natural intuitive super power we are all born with but tend to disconnect from very early in life. By reconnecting to the Felt Sense you will be able to deeply connect with your baby and intuitively understand his or her needs. You will also be better able to cope with the inevitable stress of parenthood, improve your emotional and relational intelligence, and strengthen your relationship with your partner or the co-parent of your child.
If you would like to find out more about the Alchemy Meditation Course or get started with this transformational offering, click here.