Everything has a cycle, a beginning, and an end in life.
For humans, it starts in the womb, even before we are born. When we are born, we must breathe oxygen to survive and thrive. In fact, we cannot live without oxygen for more than 6 minutes. After 10 minutes without oxygen, brain death occurs.
The first thing a baby does when it’s born is breathing air. Breathing is the first thing we are assessed for straight out of the womb. Your baby’s Apgar score measures how well your baby has made the transition from life inside the womb to life outside.
Your healthcare provider clears mucus from your baby’s nose and mouth to help your baby take her first breath. They may rub your baby’s back to help him/her breathe deeply. Crying at birth is normal and helps your baby get rid of any extra fluid that may still be in her lungs, nose, or mouth. Not all babies cry after birth, though. Some babies, like premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and babies born by c-section, may have trouble breathing after birth and need extra help from their healthcare providers.
The doctor or midwife might clear your baby’s airways and help your baby to breathe by giving normal air through a special baby mask and breathing device. The breathing device and face mask might stay on until your baby can breathe independently.
The Apgar score is a rating of your baby’s heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, response to stimuli, and skin color. A score of 0, 1, or 2 is given for each of these five criteria, and the total is the Apgar score.
The Apgar test is done at 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth.
Apgar stands for:
- A – Activity. Your baby’s provider checks your baby’s muscle tone.
- P – Pulse. Your baby’s provider takes your baby’s heart rate. A strong heart rate has more than 100 beats per minute.
- G – Grimace; reflex. Your baby’s provider places a bulb syringe in your baby’s nose and checks your baby for a response like an upset face, sneeze, or cough.
- A – Appearance. Your baby’s provider looks at your baby’s skin color. A baby’s skin may be pale or blue until she warms up and it turns pink.
- R – Respiration. Your baby’s provider checks your baby’s breathing and listens for a strong cry.
It is normal for your baby to look blue or purple in the initial few minutes after birth. If your baby is breathing well, your baby’s skin color will gradually become pink within 7-10 minutes after birth. Your baby’s hands and feet might stay blue for up to 24 hours. This is because the blood vessels in your baby’s hands and feet are very small, and it may take time for oxygenated blood to circulate properly and turn pink.
When your baby is breathing well, and your health is stable, you can hold your baby, have skin-to-skin contact and start feeding.
Let’s think about this when we are born: Breathing and feeding are the first things we do. So it would stand to reason that those are the two things we should pay attention to as we grow and throughout our lives.
Before your baby leaves the hospital, she has some special tests called newborn screening. Newborn screening checks for serious but rare conditions that your baby may have at birth. It includes blood, hearing, heart screening, and hopefully tongue and lip ties. Your baby can be born with a health condition but may not show any signs of the problem at first. If a health condition is found early with newborn screening, it often can be treated. This makes it possible to avoid more serious health problems for your baby.
Once you take your baby home, breathing and feeding should be monitored by the parents and lactation and /or feeding specialist as your infant grows.
Infant feeding is a complex process requiring the precise coordination of sucking, swallowing, and breathing. The pharynx is the shared part of our anatomy and is a pathway for both swallowing and breathing; however, these two activities are mutually exclusive. For that reason, the pharynx must be continually reconfigured so that an infant can successfully eat and breathe at the same time.
There may also be differences in the overall coordination of these tasks during breastfeeding compared with bottle feeding, but this has not yet been explicitly determined. When most discussions are taking place about which is better, they are talking about the nutritional benefits between the two options of feeding. They are not talking about structure, form, and function.
Unlike artificial bottle nipples, the human breast is compliant in response to an infant’s suckling activity, and the elasticity of the breast nipple allows it to transform to fit the shape, size, and positioning of the infant’s mouth (1). In addition, the magnitude and consistency of the milk flow from a bottle are quite different from that of the breast, and bottles may have the possibility of internal pressure, which provides resistance to infant suckling. If a baby is laid flat when using a bottle, liquid may get into the eustachian tubes causing chronic ear infections in the child’s future.
One key difference between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is oxygen saturation. Previous studies have consistently demonstrated that breastfed babies have higher oxygen saturation than bottle-fed babies.
A frequently cited explanation for this difference is that bottle feeding may promote a higher rate of swallowing and, in turn, more frequent interruptions of breathing (2).
Indeed, studies have shown that there is less disruption during breastfeeding compared with bottle feeding. This implies that the coordination of swallowing and breathing is intimately involved in blood oxygenation during feeding, but relatively few studies have examined the relationship between oxygen saturation and the coordination of sucking, swallowing, and breathing in healthy full-term infants.
The coordination of sucking, swallowing, and breathing would be more stable (have lower variability) if a bottle-feeding system more closely mimics breastfeeding. The study findings presented here demonstrate that during breastfeeding.
Data suggests that sucking and breathing patterns create “windows of opportunity,” making it possible for an infant to continue feeding without interruption. Plus, infants are able to maintain a relatively constant milk flow and continue breathing by inserting swallows into particular regions of the sucking and breathing relationship.
The study’s results also indicate significant differences in coordination patterns in infants using different bottle-feeding systems.
One possible consequence of this increased swallowing is that infants who swallow more frequently accumulate air in the stomach, which may cause post-feeding gastric upset. It is one of the few studies that have measured oxygen saturation during and after breastfeeding and bottle-feeding (3).
The authors reported significantly lower oxygenation following bottle-feeding than during the actual feeding period and attributed this to burping and gastric distress after the feeding.
A follow-up study that examines swallowing during feeding with pulse oximetry measures during and after feeding may help to clarify the post-feeding distress experienced by some bottle-fed infants.
During breastfeeding, the tongue is grooved around the nipple and remains under the nipple throughout the feeding. The muscular action of the tongue produces peristalsis so that the timing of swallowing is a continuous event in a sequence of waves (2).
The position of the tongue during bottle feeding may have been different. If the tongue is more “piston-like” in infants, swallowing is more difficult.
Though breastfeeding is best for infants, it may not always be possible.
To the extent that an artificial nipple and bottle allow the hungry infant to suck vigorously without competing with breathing, so they use their cheeks to suck instead of pressing the tongue up, developing different muscles. Every infant is different; the experience of bottle-feeding may be more similar to breastfeeding, depending on which bottle system you choose.
By designing artificial nipples and reservoirs that are compatible with your infant’s behavior, it may be possible to make oral feeding by bottle more similar to that of breastfeeding to help with proper growth and development of the airway and jaw.
In this study, Playtex promoted a pattern of coordination between sucking, swallowing, and breathing that was more similar to breastfeeding.
The artificial nipple used in this study explicitly models the elasticity, shape, and texture of the human nipple, and the collapsible milk reservoir supports a constant milk flow that does not increase hydrostatic pressure as the remaining volume decreases.
The nipple provides:
1) A Tip that extends elastically so that tongue can more effectively draw milk into the posterior pharyngeal region to accumulate gradually before swallowing,
2) A Shape that provides a rounded contour similar to the nipple and areola of the breast.
3) A Textured region of the nipple contacted by the infant’s lips that provides a slip-free surface to promote latching on with an effective seal between lips and the silicone material. Breastfeeding infants who have mastered a suck-swallow response capitalize on this stored potential energy and may be able to slow their respiratory rate so that their swallowing fits the respiratory rhythm without prolonged interruptions.
To breastfeed or bottle-feed is a personal choice! So there is no right or wrong here. If bottle feeding, you are facing the difficult choice of which bottle and artificial nipple to use, and it may be confusing due to conflicting professional and family advice. This is why I recommend a lactation or feeding specialist to help you navigate the correct size, shape, and delivery system for your infant.
What you choose will affect how their face, mouth, jaw, and airway develop. Which will affect how they breathe and sleep also. With nasal breathing, they will get more oxygen to their growing brain and body. 70-80% of growth and development happen by the age of 7. Birth to six years of age is really important for the face, mouth, jaw, and airway. We need to be having more conversations about this topic if we want our kids to live healthier lives.
Just how does breathing affect our body?
Changing the way you breathe can change the way you feel.
Stop what you are doing right now. That’s right….STOP!
Sit up straight and take in a deep breath through your nose, filling up your lungs with air and pausing at the top. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly exhale the air out until your lungs are empty.
What did you notice? If you breathe through your mouth a lot, you may feel lightheaded.
Taking a slow and intentional breath is the fastest way to activate the body’s relaxation response. It gives your mind and body a chance to calm down and reset.
Have you ever watched a sleeping baby breathe? Their bellies rise and fall rhythmically with each breath cycle.
Babies intuitively breathe this way. Their bellies fill up with each inhalation and fall with each exhalation. They cannot breathe through their mouths when they are born. But during childhood, we begin to lose that healthy belly breathing patterns and pick up new habits based on stress.
Most of us develop a habit of fast, shallow breaths that increases with tension and reduces fresh oxygen that flows throughout the body.
When we reconnect with natural deep breathing patterns, our nervous system can finally relax. For kids, this can mean reducing stress and emotional turmoil.
So, how do we reconnect with our breath?
Mindful Breathing….Being intentional with our breathing.
Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a state of deep breathing controlled by a large muscle in the abdominal area known as the diaphragm. This is a great video explaining what the diaphragm is!
Using your breath is the most powerful technique to relieve stress, center your mind, and calm the body. It’s almost too simple, which is why it’s often overlooked.
Mindful deep breathing helps kids bring their attention to their breath instead of thoughts or fears that can provoke anxiety. Conscious breathing can help them learn new ways to cope with stress and fuel their bodies with fresh oxygen to optimize physical and mental health. I think we should be teaching this in schools at a young age.
We do not teach our children how to deal with or cope with stress, and there is a lot of it these days.
When our bodies are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system or fight or flight, our heart rate, and rapid breathing to prepare for battle.
On the other hand, taking full, slow belly breaths helps your body engage the parasympathetic nervous system to elicit the “relaxation response,” – triggering a calm, settled state.
If your body tends to default to fight-or-flight mode, deep breathing can give you instant relief. By breathing deeply from your diaphragm, you ignite the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This system reverses the stress response by slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and calming the mind. With deep breaths, you can activate the body’s natural relaxation and calming response.
So basically, kids can use their breath as a phenomenal tool to regulate their minds and bodies. How empowering would that be? It would also help them be more aware and feel more in control of their own body.
Our noses were meant to be used to breathe our mouths to eat. Not the other way around; you can’t eat through your nose you should not breathe through your mouth.
We can teach this to our kiddos at home. The first thing I do as a myofunctional therapist is a breathing test. I recommend you start there.
Get a timer. You are going to time yourself or your loved one for 3 minutes.
Take a deep breath in.
Lips together, hold lips closed. You can use your fingers, hold a popsicle stick, or a tongue depressor between your lips.
Breathe in and out through your nose for three minutes.
If you cannot breathe for three minutes without using your mouth, you need to find out why you cannot breathe through your nose.
It could be a deviated septum, swollen tonsils or adenoids, a polyp, or something else. I recommend seeing an ENT to find out the cause of why you can not breathe through your nose. Is there something you can do to use your nose for breathing? Even though mouth breathing is an option, it is not a healthy one long term.
If you can breathe through your nose for three minutes, you can retrain your brain and the muscles with a series of exercises specifically for your needs. This is where a healthcare provider that knows the muscles and function comes into play. A myofunctional therapist, speech pathologist, physical therapist, or bodyworker can work with you and your family. These issues are generally hereditary and epigenetic.
For certain things, we know there is a cycle of time. Everything in nature has a beginning and an end. The Sun rises and sets. Seasons have a beginning and an end. Day and night both have beginnings and ends. Our day is a 24-hour cycle.
Self Care and a higher level of awareness begin and ends with breathing and should start with how you oxygenate your body, the critical self-talk, the connection you have with yourself, and what you choose to do with your body.
The greatest gift from the universe is our ability to create a recreate ourselves every second of every moment with our choices. It also requires strong habits. Nothing escapes the universe. It sees and hears everything, from how we breathe to what we think. Every thought wave vibration frequency travels through you in and out.
We have no secrets. The Universe maintains a balance. But we as individuals make choices that can upset our equilibrium. In order to regain balance, we need to trust the process.
Breath can assist you and bring yourself back into balance; healing and transformation come from within, holding ourselves accountable and knowing that when we make conscious decisions and choices, that can change our lives.
Regardless of our past experiences, we can expand our consciousness through learning and listening to our bodies. We can develop skills and receive more information about our environment, our nervous system, and our perception. When we make more informed choices in our life, we feel more balanced, and it does start with breathing during times of stress; fight or flight is a response in order to heal ourselves.
When we activate relaxation, our sympathetic nervous system is turned off, and our parasympathetic nervous system is turned on. Just breathing prepares the nervous system for many beneficial effects, and you may not receive that right away. Inhaling through your nose slower is the perception of time.
Good health comes from harnessing the potential energy to make better, more mindful, informed choices and decisions.
Making conscious choices about how we inhale and exhale is critical to change our lives. How many seconds does it take to fill your lungs?
Be mindful about how you breathe, and be aware and focus on your emotions so you can create peace in your mind. Perception is anything.
Peace in your body and peace in your world.
Bad sometimes isn’t always as bad as you perceive it to be. The truth is that every experience in life has value, whether we perceive it to be good or bad. We can learn something from everyone and every event.
We require discomfort in order to stimulate cell growth and navigate through life. If circumstances were always wonderful, we’d never grow or move forward. Nature shows us we won’t be down for long. After it rains, the sun comes out. When it’s dark, the sun will rise above everything.
We can learn to have a happier, healthier life. We can move beyond our own belief systems, how we think, and how we breathe. What we put into our bodies affects our gut health.
Consciously evolving requires discipline with our thoughts and our feelings and having faith in honoring our journey. There are going to be days that we don’t feel good. We’re going to have negative critical thoughts and take a breath. Give yourself a moment.
Think about your thoughts.
Choose a healthy action based on self-love, forgiveness, and honesty with yourself.
People who understand manifestations know that through your thoughts and your intentions, you can create the life that you want. Intentions are meant to support our purpose. We manifest what we think. The key to creating what we truly desire is how much energy and time we have invested in thinking about it, creating it, and attracting it.
Everyone wants life to improve, but nobody wants to change. We need to value all the resources we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. This is something I had to learn the hard way.
So how does change happen?
We need to notice what we’re thinking at all times and have a different perception to replace the old thought with a new thought. How much we want to change is a conscious decision of what we’re willing to surrender to god and the universe.
Think about what you want, not what you don’t want, and smile. Smiling is actually your superpower. It releases dopamine and increases your mood. Consider what you can achieve when you focus on how you breathe. It takes time to transform your intentions, and being able to physically manifest what you want, setting your intentions in your head, and being aware is the first thing we can do.
The universe is based on energy and collective consciousness. Set yourself up for success by keeping your mind clear and your body healthy. Just like anything in life is learned, and good things need to be practiced every day.
When your faith wavers or you have doubts, align your awareness with the universal consciousness and remember to breathe.
Life isn’t meant to be a constant struggle. It’s our birthright to be happy, safe, and loved. For most of us, it takes us a long time to figure out what we truly want. We don’t think; we just do, then we look back and wonder how we got here.
We take one breath at a time. When we’re young, we have so much energy we have so many hopes and dreams. And then life happens. We don’t realize that everything we do, we say we think is what shapes our future. We can’t change the past, but we can change our emotions with a new understanding that we can heal the wounds that we’ve covered up and tried to ignore. If we’re willing to identify only with the good parts of our past that we’re missing out on half of our life. We all make mistakes; we’ve all done things we’re not proud of, or we’re ashamed of. But we give it too much power.
And we believe we have to live in that space. Shame takes away from our light, and we bury things deep inside. We don’t even realize how they’re affecting our breathing.
Hindsight is 2020; holding ourselves accountable expands our awareness. We don’t have to be victims of life circumstances.
When you change the way you look at something, you realize there’s a bigger picture, and everything will be okay now.
I jumped from infants and breathing to choices without choices. Nothing in our lives will ever change. You’ve made the choices you made in your past. We did our best with the information he had at the time. The hardest thing for me to do was forgive myself. I kept living in the past, and that’s what most of us do. We keep replaying things over and over and over. Again. But we can change our thoughts. We can change our habits. We can change our behaviors. We don’t realize our choices are key to everything.
Old perceptions, old awareness, and old memories don’t serve us.
The truth is we are so attached to our ego, and we don’t even know it. Healing starts with our environment, our mind and our body, our thoughts, and how we breathe.
We need to stop being so harsh on ourselves, or we will continue to suffer until we release that that we’re attached to in our past.
We can help teach our kids. Start with breathing to help them regulate their emotions. Most of the decisions we make come from how we are feeling at the time.
Breathing is something we rarely think about because our bodies do it for us. Most people don’t think about breathing until they have an illness that makes it difficult to breathe. My intention is to bring greater awareness to conscious breathing as to why conscious breathing is critical for optimal health.
What sets breathing apart and other bodily functions that we have is we can override and control them. Mindful breathing can deliberately shift our nervous system, which can have positive effects on asthma, stress, hypertension, and even our immune function.
Nasal Breathing is important to the fundamentals of oxygen. We need to breathe through our nose to have carbon dioxide exchange for our brain and cardiovascular system. However, most of us need to be in a state of awareness that will allow us to become our own therapists. When we know better, we do better.
Breathing practices can change how our neurons and synapses are wired, allowing us to self-regulate and rewrite our stories.
Breathing slowly and deeply through our nose is also anti-inflammatory, much like eating green leafy vegetables, helps lower our heart rate, produces less cortisol and adrenaline, and helps our bodies be more alkaline and less acidic. We have fewer diseases because it helps keep our hormones balanced.
Epigenetics is the study of the interaction between our environment in our genes. 70 to 90% of all chronic diseases are caused by our lifestyle and our environment, not by our genes. This statistic was something that was shocking to me.
So where we live, how we live, and what we eat, drink and breathe all determine how healthy we are. No one gets sick by chance. Everything we do and the choices we make have an effect on our health.
The latest research shows that our thoughts, how we breathe, and what we eat create inflammation and are the root cause of all diseases. When we breathe slowly through our nose, we can change our stress and inflammation. Breathing can actually strengthen our immune system, slow down the aging process, burn fat and help us sleep deeply. The negative effects of sleep deprivation on our health are very well documented. Changing our breathing can definitely improve our sleep and our overall health.
Our diaphragm is the largest muscle in our body, located below our heart and our lungs and above the liver, stomach, and spleen. When we take deep breaths through our mouths, we don’t engage the diaphragm. When we breathe deeply through our noses, our diaphragm pushes down with each breath and massages are GI tract which also helps stimulate digestion and strengthens our core which supports the muscles of our lower back and helps to straighten our spine. Our diaphragm does a whole lot more than we think. We really take this part of our body for granted.
Oxygen is one of nature’s miracle drugs, and when our diaphragm is strong and we breathe deeper through our nose, we can move more oxygen into our muscles, tissues, and nervous system; our diaphragm is our strongest core muscle. When it’s strong, we are strong.
Breathing is a tool that helps us keep grounded on Earth and the cycles of nature. Our bodies are naturally in a cycle that rises with the sun and sets with the moon. Our bodies go through biochemical and psychological processes throughout the day that is rooted in our circadian rhythm.
Making breathing a habit through our nose and slowing our breathing has the most profound impact on our health and our life.
Whether you’re breathing through your mouth or your nose, when you realize you’re breathing through your mouth and you switch over to nasal breathing, it becomes a part of everything you do. You can consciously train your breath and watch your physical, mental, and emotional health transform.
Most people breathe shallow superficiality with the upper portion of their lungs, and they suffer from fatigue, foggy thinking, and unhealthy choices.
The good news is that by practicing conscious, intentional breathing, we can retrain ourselves. Breathing is the most undervalued tool used in physical and mental health. How we breathe dictates the response from several systems in our body: every animal on earth breathes through its nose unless it’s hunting, being hunted, or sick. In our culture these days, most adolescents and adults breathe through their mouths and don’t even know it.
The most self-aware and spiritually aware people breathe through their noses. They’re visibly calm, centered, and relaxed, and they practice self-care and self-regulation, which all begins with inhaling and exhaling through their nose.
To take full advantage of our health, how we breathe affects burning fat, sugar, hormone balance, heart rates, digestive function, and so much more. The length that we breathe is a reflection of the thoughts that move across our minds. The depth of breath regulates the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the pace that we breathe signals our sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system.
The longer we inhale, the more serotonin we create. exhaling slowly gives our body a chance to absorb the oxygen molecules that are in the carbon dioxide. What’s beautiful about this is when we hold our exhale, our brain is exchanging the stale air, and it’s fueling up as we breathe in and out.
Breathing is medicine with no side effects.
We are living longer but not healthier. The choices we make with Oxygen, Water Nutrition and Sleep are not only affecting our lifespan but also our healthspan.
The most beneficial way to improve our health is by retraining our respiratory system to inhale and exhale.
Slowing our breaths can help regulate our cardiovascular system also; if you have an open mouth, forget that training your diaphragm muscle to inhale and really push down holding your breath first few seconds can expand your ribcage and it can also reduce the number of breaths for that you need to take each minute.
The latest science aims for 12 breaths per minute, but you can do better if you make it a goal to focus on training your respiratory system first by using breathing techniques.
Your heart rate will lower during intense activity, lowering your blood pressure, and it also will have an effect on more alkalinity and less acidity for yourself, which will help you live longer.
The vagus nerve plays a role in our overall health; it is the main nerve involved in our immune system. The 10th cranial nerve and the longest nerve in the body. Our biggest nerve runs from our brain through the upper part of our torso and down through our diaphragm. Like jellyfish tentacles, it connects to every digestive organ, and it’s called the wandering nerve because of its length. It’s also called the nerve of compassion because it can stimulate the release of calming serotonin when we’re stressed. The vagus nerve lowers our heart rate, our blood pressure and stimulates our digestion. Its energy travels through our whole body. It’s a major nerve in our brain and our body that helps us breathe because it releases neurotransmitters and prevents inflammation, and helps our brain make memories.
As you strengthen your vagus nerve and diaphragm, everything in your body performs and functions with less stress. All we need to do is apply this to our daily lives through conscious awareness and mindful choices.
We can tune our bodies with the seasons.
Albert Einstein said, “no problem would be solved at the same level of consciousness it was created.”
Our conscious thoughts become our words of actions. We want to be as informed as possible so we can make well-informed choices; when we make healthier choices, we feel more at peace.
When we come out of the womb, every moment is fresh and new, and we’re completely present. We don’t have a past or a future that we know of.
As we age, changes happen, we get into our heads and we replay past events wishing we could change them instead of letting them go and just worrying about tomorrow. We can use our breath to connect to our hearts and create the moments we deserve. We all deserve the best we always have, and we always will. Conscious breathing and thoughts can change our life. The choices we make with the way that we breathe, the water we drink, the foods that we eat, and how much sleep we get can make a difference in our bodies and the toxins in our environment. If we let our emotions take over, it can be dangerous.
We need to keep an eye on the choices that we make. Mother Nature is a great teacher. Allowing Mother Nature to show us the big picture begins with a conscious relationship of gratitude. We spend so much of our time looking back there puts a lot of pressure on us because it makes us feel inadequate.
Or do we feel like we need to keep up with the Joneses? We are all the same inside or out; when we compare ourselves to others, we do ourselves a disservice. We were all created equal, yet differently, and individually we all have special gifts. Nature has given us everything that we need to survive and thrive.
Our noses are for breathing, and our mouth is for eating.
Breathing requires us to become aware of our emotions and our intentions.
Optimal Health is attainable if we believe it doesn’t take long hours of training. It takes being aware and making a conscious decision to change our habits.
Be patient with yourself in the process. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Remember, every day you wake up, you have a choice; you have the ability to consider what your response is going to be. You can shorten or extend your life with those conscious choices; the outcome is yours. Your body, your breath. Your thoughts are all up to you. We only get one body. What choice are you going to make?
We talked about this a little bit earlier, but what we call life begins and ends with two breaths we take. They are bookends to our life stories.
A dying person’s breathing will change from a normal rate and rhythm to a new pattern, where you may observe several rapid breaths followed by a period of no breathing (apnea). These periods of apnea will eventually increase from a few seconds to more to extended periods during which no breath is taken.
There are two stages of death.
The first stage, known as clinical death, occurs when a person’s heart stops beating. About four to six minutes later, brain cells start to die from the loss of oxygen, and biological death occurs.
Resuscitation may be possible during clinical death. But it’s not possible during biological death. However, doctors may be able to delay biological death by cooling the body, thus extending the window for possible resuscitation. The colder the body is, the slower the metabolic rate, so you’re using oxygen up slower, and that window may be longer and may also delay biological death.
The hearing may be the last sense to go. Though it has not been scientifically proven, it is widely believed that hearing is the last of the senses lost before death. It’s the most passive sense; that is why we encourage families to talk and share their last thoughts, love, and support with their loved ones because even though the blood pressure is dropping and they’re fading out, they can hear what we’re saying.
As the moment of death comes nearer, breathing usually slows down and becomes irregular. It might stop and then start again, or there might be long pauses or stops between breaths. This is known as Cheyne-Stokes breathing. This can last for a short time or a long time before breathing finally stops.
Agonal breathing or agonal gasps are the last reflexes of the dying brain. They are generally viewed as a sign of death and can happen after the heart has stopped beating. End-of-life changes at the time of death, and breathing ceases.
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- Gewolb IH, Vice FL, Schwietzer-Kenney EL, Taciak VL, Bosma JF 2001 Developmental patterns of rhythmic suck and swallow in preterm infants. Dev Med Child Neurol 43: 22–27