The function of breathing is obvious right?
Breathing is something we rarely think about and yet the power of smooth, calculated breaths positively affects us both mentally and physically.
After surgery, from the minute you wake up you will be reminded by the medical staff looking after you to take deep breaths regularly (at least 4 deep breaths every hour) except when you are sleeping. This is usually for 48 hours and until you are moving around by yourself comfortably. WHY?
Deep breathing after surgery will deliver oxygen effectively right into your bloodstream to oxygenate your body. This is vital for tissue healing, assisting with pain relief and keeping your lungs clear of secretions.
Purposeful Deep Breathing
Breathing with purpose is also very helpful to calm you and clear your mind.
TIP: Elevate your arms to shoulder height on your IN breath to move your lower ribs out to the side and gain further chest expansion.
As a rehab physio in hospital, I like to instruct my patients to do four counts on the IN breath through your nose (1-2-3-4) and four counts on the OUT breath through your mouth (4-3-2-1). Repeat four times.
Breathe IN through your nose.
Your nasal passages have tiny hairs which filter your air and keep it moist. Often you will wake from surgery with nose prongs, little plastic tubes placed just inside your nostrils with plastic tubes going behind your head attached to the wall. This delivers a controlled flow of oxygen into your airways and may remind you to breathe in through your nose.
Breathe OUT through your mouth.
Letting your jaw relax will allow a sigh and this aids in getting the air out to allow for your next beautiful IN breath.
Chest clearing breathing or Active Cycle Breathing, (ACB)
This breathing technique helps clear mucus from the lungs in three phases. The first phase helps you relax your airways. The second phase helps you to get air behind mucus and clears mucus. The third phase helps force the mucus out of your lungs. It is called Active Cycle of Breathing and here is how you do it.
- Breathing control
Breathing control is breathing gently, using as little effort as possible. Rest your hand on your rib case/upper abdomen. Feel your upper abdomen rising under your hand as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out. Try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth at a rate that feels comfortable. I suggest four of these breaths.
- Deep breathing exercises
This helps loosen secretions. Take four long, slow, deep breaths IN through your nose if you can. Pause at the end of each breath for two to three seconds, then breathe OUT gently through your mouth, like a sigh. Try to keep your shoulders and chest relaxed.
A huff is a way of exhaling your breath forcefully out through your mouth, but without coughing. You only need to one or two short sharp exhale breaths. Try to avoid excessive coughing as this may reduce the effectiveness of removing phlegm.
Repeat this cycle, four times.
To Cough or not to Cough?
If you have had abdominal surgery or your surgical site is near to your torso it will hurt to have a big hearty cough. The best way to have a cough is to prepare yourself with four sets of Active Cycle Breathing (ACB), then cough one or two times at the end of this sequence.
TIP: Have a pillow already placed over your abdomen and press firmly with your forearms into the pillow to minimise the jarring from coughing. It helps a lot!
Everyday breathing Practice
The way to ensure you are breathing well after surgery is to practice it now.
Make it a regular part of your day up to four times a day.
Take four purposeful deep breaths, IN through your nose (1-2-3-4), and breathe OUT through your mouth (4-3-2-1), four times.
If you feel unwell or have a cough, practice the Active Cycle Breathing technique with a hearty cough at the end of the breathing cycle.
Check in with your doctor if you need more advice.
Yogabody founder Lucas Rockwood, coach’s science-based breathing for optimal health. He has a great TED TALK https://youtu.be/_QTJOAI0UoU.
Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org if you want further advice about breathing after surgery.
Notes: Outline: [How to Breathe easy after surgery]
Keyword MSV: [surgery, breathing, active cycle breathing, chest physiotherapy]
Author: [Carol Armitage]
Due Date: [20/04/2020]
Publish Date: [20/04/2020]
Buyer Persona: [preparing for surgery Reader]