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HELP!I can't get air during stronger than normal braxton hicks

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've never even heard of this before.I couldn't reach my mw or a doctor today to get their opinions.Here's the thing-The other night I was having some pretty good rushes.I felt them starting in my resperatory areas before my uterus,and as they got stronger I had a hard time getting air,even to the point of having to cough to breathe a couple times.THIS IS SCARY!I'm terrified it will happen again or I will have to be rushed to the ER and have a c-section or even die if I do not figure this out before I go into labor for real.
Could this be asthma?I've never had a problem before.
I have had some light heart palpitations in the last year,possibly a thyroid problem,but I was hoping to have the baby before really delving into that.
Any ideas,suggestions,resources,advice,etc...?
I'm not due for a couple weeks,but I've felt I'd be early all thru this pregnancy,and after the "false labor" the other night I'm really anxious to solve this mystery.
We are planning another home birth,and I really don't want to get our midwife in any career or legal trouble.I've also never had to go to the hospital for all my births and even my home miscarriage,and I like that record.
Any help would be so greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 12

Try breathing abdominally

I'm no expert, so don't hold me responsible if it doesn't help, but I find it easier to breath by expanding my abdomen instead of my chest while having a strong BXHX contraction. Practice by placing your hand on your tummy and take several normal, deep breaths and make sure your hand rises when you breath. After that, your chest may follow, but don't worry if it doesn't---you are still getting a breath. That is a great way to breath during labor to avoid hyperventilation and move you into an imitation of sleep. Try this---best of luck to you---and ask your midwife if she will have an oxygen tank at the birth--many nurse midwives will.
post #3 of 12
Oh, that's scary. I know that when I have stronger-than-usual BH I feel them in my lungs, too. Kind of like someone is sitting on my chest. (This only happens when I am lying down, though.)

I make a huge, concentrated effort to breathe deeply and slowly through them, and I *know* I'm getting air, even though it sometimes feels like I'm not.

It sounds like yours are more intense though... If I was coughing etc I think I'd call my mw to chat about it. No need to add extra worry / fear-- birthing is hard enough as it is!

Good luck mama, keep us posted.
post #4 of 12
Could it be partly emotional? I agree to try the abdominal breathing. When I have intense BH I get on my knees and that seems to help. Maybe it would help to have gravity pulling your lungs open? (I also have asthma and that can make me feel better at times) Do you have problems any other times? Are you congested?

ETA: I asked about the emotional because I've had panic attacks in the past wherein my breathing was really limited (as in it wasn't my imagination), but relaxation exercises or getting rid of the trigger helped me work through it. I hope that you figure out what it is and it stops though, that's always a scary feeling.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
My mw is bringing oxygen,extra just in case,but if I can't get the air,it won't do me any good.
The abdominal breathing will help with extra relaxation anyway,and if it is an asthma issue,that will be very useful.(I was one test away from certifying as a Bradley instructor too! I did the whole thing during my 2nd full term pregnancy,and fell off the wagon after dd was born,but I do teach a variety class on occasion.Isn't bradley awesome!)
The deep breathing works to a degree,but it gets me more worried feeling how little air it gets me.It does seem worse lying down,now that you mention it.
I think you may be on to something here,nitareality.Things have been very emotional lately,about 4 major issues presenting themselves immediately.One or two concerning this addition to our lives.
I'm thrilled to actually find someone WITH asthma to run this by.
I'm not congested,and I have no problem any other times.I've been rather active otherwise lately with gardening-pulling out and transfering lawn-moving big border rocks,chasing 3 other kids...running around the zoo with said kids and a kindergarten class...I've had no problem with any of that,and enjoyed every bit.
When you get on you knees are you upright,or in a crawl position?I'll try that.
While I've got you here,how,if at all, does your asthma affect labor for you?And would oxygen help?I've heard of breathing thru a straw...
Thankyou so much for your thoughts!
post #6 of 12
Butting in from July, but my first thought was to see what it would be like to change positions when the contraction happens and see if that's any better. Hands and knees?

I'd still def talk to your midwife. Maybe baby needs to change positions and then you'll have relief for this. Sounds scary
post #7 of 12
I'm another asthmatic. What you're describing sounds a little more to me like the type of not-being-able-to-breathe you get during a panic attack. (Or else, the baby is really crowding into your lungs, but that doesn't seem like it to me.) It doesn't seem possible (In my not-at-all-professional opinion) that you're having actual asthma attacks *just* during contractions.

However, panic attack not-being-able-to-breathe and baby-crowding-your-lungs not being able to breathe are similar to asthma in some respects. Let me give you some tips that help me (as an asthmatic and as someone who has had at least one major panic attack):

Asthma is a condition where your lungs actually cannot expel the oxygen that's in them (because of muscle tightness and congestion). Anxiety can reproduce this muscle tightness in the upper chest (but you wouldn't get the congestion part) and make it difficult to breathe. Recieving oxygen would *not* be helpful in this case, because the problem isn't that you have no oxygen going in, it's that you don't have enough CO2 coming out! (This is why they don't give asthmatics oxygen, they put us on nebulizers during serious attacks, to give us medicine to clear the lungs of congestion, and relax the chest and diaphragm.)

So, even tho it *feels* somewhat counter-intuitive, focus on breathing out. Really use your muscles (diaphragm and chest) to expell your breath as fully as you can. The inhalation will follow. Don't try to force the inhalation.

There are lots of yoga breathing exercises that can be helpful, but mostly, just focusing on the out-breath is what helps the most, I think. (And it is super easy to do.)

The other thing you want to do (and this also applies to baby-crowding-your-lungs issues) is open up the chest and diaphragm. Roll your shoulders back. Try massaging your chest in an outward fashion (stroking towards your breasts from the center). Think "open." Having someone rub your upper back is REALLY helpful. (I personally find light massage to be the best, but some people prefer deeper massage). Water is GREAT! A hot bath will relax chest muscles really well.

Asthma attacks usually leave me with an extreme back ache from all that concentrating on breathing. That's where the massage and hot bath really come in handy. Also, muscle rub (tho I'm not entirely sure I'd want to use that during labor...).

There are also herbal remedies for relaxing the chest muscles, but I unfortunately don't know too much about them (since I use an inhaler). I do know caffeine is a good "OMG, I lost my inhaler, what do I do?" works in a pinch substitute. I'm not sure if it helps with the congestion or the muscle spasms, tho. Plus, drinking a strong cup of coffee during labor sounds really gross to me... but maybe a little tea? I don't know, it's just a thought... (then again, caffeine agravated anxiety. Maybe herbs that help with anxiety like Valerian and St John's Wort would be more useful. Like I said, I don't know much about this subject...)

BTW, heart palpitations are also an indictor for anxiety. Is there someone you can talk to (a therapist or clergy person or very trusted wise friend) for help with this anxiety? Did you know anxiety is the #1 psychological disorder in the US? It is very common, there's absolutely no shame in having anxiety. Getting help is a good thing Even without meds (or with meds, if the anxiety is severe enough) if you can find someone to talk with, you can usually see a huge improvement!

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thankyou,alexisyael,for your great suggestions for relaxation.I so appreciate your experience and that you are sharing what you've gleaned with me.Your post has been very helpful.I'm leaning more toward anxiety issues the more I read about asthma too.
I'm wondering about (hyper)thyroid possibitities as well.I just found out my mom has had thyroid problems!She never mentioned that!My goal for today is to get some expert opinions and write to see if I can pinpiont and release some anxieties.I'm going to try talking to DH about a few things,though it is so hard for me to verbalize stuff and he's not a great listener.(He has mentioned that he thinks depression is made up and just in ones head!!!!)I know though if I explain the context he'll make an effort.I wonder if rescue remedy may help IN the moment.I'm going to try that when/if it happens again.

This has been such a bizarre experience for me.I so appreciate all your thoughts and help.

Now that I think about it.I have felt better in general for 2 days now.I think/hope a solution is clicking now.Still having the odd contrax though.
post #9 of 12
I think the more you write and talk about it (even here online ) the better off you are! Writing is a HUGE G-dsend to me with my own anxiety/ depression/ irritability. I can't believe I forgot about it

You know what else helps? Birth art! I have a big huge pregnancy journal that I write in and I've done several birth drawings (ala Birthing From Within). I decide on a title ("How I feel" "Birth dreams" "My pregnant body" are big topics for me) and then free-form draw. I'm not the best artist, but it does help to see what's in my head come out on paper...

Hyper-thyroid can produce anxiety, I think. Hypo-thyroid tends to produce depression. I don't know which issue you think you have, but depression and anxiety can often masquerade as one another... I don't know as much as I should about those issues (hyper and hypo thyroid conditions both run in my family).

I am very glad to share my experiences and to help out in any small way I can Being an asthmatic has basically been a blessing in my life (as well as being very hard), in that it has given me a wealth of information to share with other people, as well as a ton of compassion. AND, it has also let me see that I am a strong person, who can make it through the dark times...

My DH and I have talked about how we think that having lived through some serious asthmatic attacks (with him being there for me as I struggled to breathe - this is before I got on asthma meds) will serve us well as we go into the unknown territory of birth... it won't be the same (different sensations, different physiology) but it will be more familiar for us to relax together in the midst of physical suffering.

I hope that you are able to use your exeriences with these intense rushes to help you through this birthing experience!!!!!!!!
post #10 of 12
I agree with alexisyael across the board, and would only add that any hot liquid will help thin out any mucous in your lungs if you have congestion that you aren't aware of.

During my contractions I am on my hands and knees in a crawling position...a lot of times now I'm supported by a birth ball. Again, like alexisyael said, it pushes my shoulders back, plus now gravity seems to pull my lungs open. It may be mental, but it helps me feel better. A LOT of times when I'm having a hard time breathing "mental" is huge for me because it does cause a panic so I'll work with just about anything LOL.

I have not had, and will not have the, opportunity to labor, so I don't really have more strategies for asthma and labor. I'm sorry. My first was a c/s and I have been unable to find a provider who is willing to deliver me (VBAC) with all of my various "risks".

I have read elsewhere in the pregnancy forums about rescue remedy being utilized for some anxiety during labor...if you are extremely worried about this happening during labor I would check into that along with mentioning your concerns to your midwife.

My DH and I have talked about how we think that having lived through some serious asthmatic attacks (with him being there for me as I struggled to breathe - this is before I got on asthma meds) will serve us well as we go into the unknown territory of birth... it won't be the same (different sensations, different physiology) but it will be more familiar for us to relax together in the midst of physical suffering.
I had always thought this would be the case...
post #11 of 12
Yes, definitely I agree with the hands and knees position being good and hot liquids!

Being in a good mental state is SO crucial for my asthma. For years, I poo-pooed that idea, but then I realized that there really is a connection. My lungs are very sensitive to my state of mind. (Weirdly, I can get a sympathetic asthma attack just from hearing about someone else's attack!) Panic is a big problem for asthmatics -- I'd say it's our biggest enemy! (When you panic, you forget to focus on your breath, and it starts a really vicious cycle where the CO2 just builds and builds...) I've been complemented by Drs before on my ability to stay calm in the midst of what looks like (from the outside) a major asthma attack. In fact, despite the fact that my lung function tested really crappy during one of those attacks (really crappy, like put you on the nebulizer right now, OMG, you might die! crappy) my oxygen levels never dropped below normal (they had those oxygen testing things on my fingers and toes). So, I was allowed to go home with my meds and didn't get hooked up to the nebulizers, like the three other asthmatics who were in the clinic at that time (this is when I lived in Southern CA and it was a very bad smog day, which equals very bad asthma days!)

Fun times, fun times... I am so glad I don't live in Southern CA anymore! My asthma is drastically better in the area where I live now. (You might even say it's in remission, except I still get mild attacks when I have a cold or the flu.)
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I SO appreciate this thread!Thankyou!I did finally talk to a reputable Naturopath and midwife,she suggested magnesium,rescue remedy and a couple homeopathics just off the top of her head.I've been using rescue remedy quite a bit lately,and it does help enough to get on top of things.I've had far less breathing problems in the last few days.I feel like I can get through labor now,thanks so much to your posts!I was going to not make the effort to labor in a tub this time(last baby was a water birth)but I'm reconsidering now,as a form of extra relaxation.
After a huge 2 hour breakdown yesterday,I think I'm starting to see some light.I've had such a hard time comming up with the real core issue as far as anxiety.I think it is simply I'm terrified to have to go thru postpartum with as little support as I had last time.I can see all the peices falling into place for a repeat or worse,and I really could not handle it!So I have something I can actually articulate and talk to Dh about.I even wrote a short kids book about it with the kids yesterday.(about 8 pages with stick figures of our family)I called it "Something with mom."and address feeling stress and needing and giving help,especially with a new baby.The kids were pretty receptive and we read it 5 times before I even got it bound/taped!All of this was while Dh was at work.(He doesn't get home until 12;30 am,so we haven't seen each other yet since yesterday morning.)
I absolutely love birth art,and have been doing some here and there,but with out being able to pinpoint a fear or articulate a vision of what was eating at me,I just kept comming up with what felt like "old" birth art.How I used to feel and see the birth experience,and how I wish I felt about it now...it got very frustrating!I'll try a couple today,and see how it goes...
I just cannot thank you mama's enough for sharing your experiences and thoughts with me!and giving me an outlet and a springboard,for this work in progress. Thankyou,thankyou,thankyou!
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