Breathing Techniques for Labor

Breathing Techniques for Labor

Many women find breathing techniques an effective way to manage contractions during labor. By focusing on your breathing, you may find yourself better able to deal with any discomfort caused by the contractions.

How will breathing techniques help me during labor?

When you feel panicked, your breathing can become shallow and rapid. This can limit the amount of oxygen available to you and your baby.

  • Focusing on your breathing can help to act as a mild pain relief during the early contractions.
  • Breathing techniques can help you to feel in control during labor.
  • When you feel scared or stressed, your body initiates the ‘fight or flight’ response. During labor, this can slow down or even stop contractions. Breathing techniques can help to control this response.

Which breathing technique should I use?

There are a number of different techniques available, each claiming to be effective during birth. In fact, it doesn’t matter which breathing technique you use, as long as you ensure it is rhythmical. There is no need to spend vast amounts of money on classes to learn a particular technique, as long as you feel comfortable teaching yourself. You could try:

  • Counting as you breathe – by counting the length of your inhale and exhale, you can control your breathing. To feel calm during a contraction, you should aim for a longer exhale than inhale. This will help to relax you.
  • Visualisation breathing – think of your happy place. As you breathe in, imagine sucking things in, and then visualise blowing them away as you breath out.
  • Nose to mouth – try breathing in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

The breathing techniques taught at antenatal yoga, pilates and meditation can also be used during labor. The breathing technique should make you feel relaxed and calm. These techniques are great to use throughout the pregnancy to ward off stress.

The pushing stage

Once you reach the pushing stage, you may find that you change how you breathe. You may prefer a pant-like breathing technique while pushing. That’s fine, just go with whatever feels natural at the time. The midwife will be there to offer any support or guidance.

Teach your birth partner the breathing technique you would like to use during labor. They will be able to remind you of the breathing pattern each time you experience a contraction. You may find you forget all your carefully thought out plans when the day arrives!

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.