Good breathing techniques can help women to get through labour and achieve a natural birth, but even if you plan to get an epidural or some other pain medication, breathing techniques can be beneficial.
who has had a baby can tell you what a trying and painful experience labour and
birth can be. There is a large variety of different things that labouring women
can do to help themselves get through their labour and birth. Everything from
strong pain medication to simple mental preparation is used to help labouring
women manage pain and discomfort.
One thing in particular that is probably a good idea for every pregnant woman to
learn before the big day is breathing techniques for labour. Good breathing
techniques can help women to get through labour and achieve a natural birth,
but even if you plan to get an epidural or some other pain medication,
breathing techniques can be beneficial.
Benefits of Breathing
Techniques During Labour
There is a myriad of
benefits to proper breathing, especially during labour. It’s about more than
just getting through contractions, although that is an important benefit! The
benefits of a good breathing technique during labour are:
Helps to provide
adequate oxygen to the mother and baby
Gives baby a little extra bit of oxygen during
Keeps you focused on something
other than the pain
Helps you to stay calm and relaxed
Can help let your partner and care givers when
you’re having a contraction
Helps to release
built up tension after a contraction
When to Employ Breathing
Techniques During Labour
a great idea to start implementing breathing techniques as soon as labour
begins. The early parts of labour are easy to cope with so it’s a great time
for you to get into a good rhythm of how to handle contractions before they get
more difficult to deal with. As each contraction begins, practise your
breathing technique of choice.
your breathing technique for the duration of the contraction, and then
breathe regularly in between your contractions.
Different Types of Breathing
Techniques for Labour
is no one perfect breathing technique for labour. What works wonders for one
labouring woman may not help a different labouring woman at all. Learn about
different breathing techniques throughout your pregnancy and practise them
before the big day. That way you can get an idea of what may work best for you
when the time comes.
1. Patterned or Conscious
you ever seen a movie with a labouring woman rapidly breathing sounding
something like “heeheehoohoo”? That comes from a method of getting through
labour known as Lamaze.
first started and became popular, it was all about breathing in a very specific
pattern. Since then, we have come to know that being too specific in your
breathing technique can have negative effects. Now, Lamaze instructors teach
patterned breathing which is much less specific than it used to be.
patterned breathing, you simply breathe
in a consistent pattern of whatever is comfortable for you. Most women find
consistent deep and slow breaths most comfortable and helpful during labour.
2. Yoga Breathing
is method of using exercise, meditation and breathing techniques to improve
overall well-being. Some women find it helpful to use the breathing techniques
you learn through yoga in their labour. There are tons of different yoga
breathing techniques, but one that is supposed to help intensify focus and help with labour is called Ujayii.
practice Ujayii breathing, hold your hand in front of your face as if it were a
compact mirror. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale through your
mouth onto your hand – almost like your fogging the mirror with your breath.
Make a sort of “Haaa” sound while you do this. Now, try to do the same thing
but with your mouth closed. Continue to try to do the “Haaa” sound but breathe
out through your nose instead.
3. Surge Breathing
method that some women use to get through their labour is called HypnoBirthing.
This method focuses on using deep relaxation techniques as well as
self-hypnosis to get through labour. One of the techniques they use is called
surge breathing. It’s designed to help
expand your abdomen and lungs allowing optimal space for the muscles in
your uterus to do their job of opening up your cervix.
To practice this
breathing technique for labour, place your fingers on the middle of your belly
barely touching each other. Then, breathe in slow and deep through your nose
into your abdomen.
Breathe in as deeply
as you can; as you take your breath, your fingers should separate. Slowly
breathe out through your mouth and your fingers should return to their original
position where they are just barely touching. Do this for
4. Counted Breathing
but effective breathing technique that you can use during labour is counted
breathing. It’s as easy as it sounds. You just count as you breathe. Count slowly as you breathe in and find a
number that’s comfortable for you. Many women find 3 or 4 to be a good number
to count to. Count slowly as you breathe in, and then count again as you
Some women find it comfortable to count to one number while
breathing in, but then a different number while breathing out. Just do whatever
works best for you. Counted breathing helps you to focus and remain calm.
5. “Relax” Breathing
word “relax” has two syllables which makes it great to think of as you breathe.
A very basic breathing technique for labour is to simply think of this word
while you do your breathing. As you breathe in, think “re- “, and as you
breathe out, think “-lax”.
It gives you something to focus on to help distract
you from the pain and make it through each contraction. You can actually choose anything to think of that has two
syllables, it doesn’t have to be the word “relax” if you prefer something
Partner Involvement with
Breathing Techniques for Labour
a partner to help you through labour and birth can be extremely helpful and
beneficial. Your partner can help with many things throughout your labour, and
your breathing techniques are certainly one of them. Labour usually becomes
very intense and it can be difficult to focus and remember to breathe properly.
This is where your partner comes in!
They can help to remind you to breathe properly, and can even practice the breathing
techniques with you.
Make sure that during your pregnancy, your partner also
learns whatever breathing technique or techniques you plan to use. That way
they can be prepared to help you with your breathing during labour.
Universal Tips for Breathing
Techniques for Labour
matter what breathing technique you decide to use, there are some important
things to always remember:
Avoid breathing too rapidly as this can cause
Breathing should always be comfortable and feel
Breathing techniques should not make you feel
lightheaded or faint
You should practise your breathing techniques before
It’s okay to make noises as you exhale – many women
find this helpful
Never hold your breath – it reduces oxygen supply
and can negatively impact you and your baby
Proper Breathing is Crucial
for All Pregnant Women to Learn
can be surprising how something as simple as the way you breathe can have such
a major impact on how you feel - especially as you go through labour, but
breathing properly is so important. Learning good breathing techniques for
labour is something all pregnant woman should do.
Even if you plan to use pain medication during labour or even if you
have to have a cesarean, good breathing techniques can help to reduce
anxiety, ensure adequate oxygen supply for both you and your baby, and help you
stay relaxed and focused.
Something else that’s great about learning good
breathing techniques is that you can use them even beyond your pregnancy and
labour. They are great for stressful situations of all kinds, which will
definitely come in handy during your journey through motherhood!
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