As a Chiropractor working with patients, I see many problems associated with poor breathing patterns. This is mainly brought on by emotional stress and causes us to shallow breathe or “stress breathe”, which means that we breathe using our upper chest and mainly through the mouth. Our body is wired to shallow breathe when the sympathetic nervous system or “flight or fight” nervous system is triggered, and this in turn will disturb oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and create imbalance in the muscles associated with the neck, upper back and shoulders.

Upper cross syndrome is common in patients who shallow breathe, which means there is an imbalance associated with muscles of the upper body, some are too tight and some are too weak. Tightness through the diaphragm is also common, as is mouth breathing.

Birthing and having a newborn is very emotional and sometimes stressful. Many mothers can even forget to breathe in certain moments and need to be reminded to breathe! Stress breathing and mouth breathing is a normal physiological response and helps pump oxygen to the body, however it actually lowers oxygen levels in the blood and the brain recognises this a stress. When shallow breathing is sustained over long periods it will cause the above problems. This is why it is important for new mums to check-in with themselves regularly through out the day to ensure they are not stuck in a stress/shallow breathing pattern. A great way to do this is whenever you are feeding, take a moment to check-in with yourself that you are breathing through your nose and all the way down into your diaphragm – even down to your pelvic floor!

Take 2 minutes:

  • Looking straight ahead
  • Relax your gaze or close your eyes
  • Drop your shoulders
  • Breathe in through your nose for four slowly, feel your lower ribs and belly expand
  • Hold your breathe for four
  • And then slowly exhale for four and repeat