It’s become an American tradition—when you’re expecting your first baby, you drop a few hundred bucks to go to “birth classes” in which both expecting mom and expecting dad are educated about the birth process and taught techniques to deal with the pain of labor. The most iconic of these techniques, immortalized in countless movies and bad sitcoms, is the Lamaze breathing.
By concentrating on one’s breath, a laboring woman learns to control the sensations of her body being twisted inside out. She learns to turn a painful experience into an empowering one.
Maybe it’s because I was too broke to afford the actual in-person class and instead opted for renting the five DVD set from the local library, but that Lamaze stuff just didn’t work for me. I’d also taken countless yoga and movement classes where we learned to use our breath to relax and control tension. But once I was in labor, no breathing method alone was going to relax me.
Though I found the Lamaze breathing exercises completely useless for their intended purpose, I have discovered what they are REALLY good for:
That moment when your three-year-old hits you in the face during a time-out. Breathe.
The time your husband comes home and asks why, when you are home all day and not “working,” the house looks like a Tasmanian devil ran through it. Breathe.
When one of your child’s grandparents brings over the toy that makes noises louder than any surround-sound speakers, the toy that you specifically asked them NOT to buy… Breathe.
When you’re “touched out” from a baby that’s been on the boob all day and your husband complains that you don’t want to cuddle enough. Breathe.
When your bank account is approaching zero, you’ve got a sick kid and a huge deductible in your prescription coverage. Breathe.
When everything is falling apart around you, pull that baby’s head in close, nuzzle your nose in their soft hair, and just BREATHE. (And then maybe grab a glass of wine.)
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