Breathing Techniques for Labor

Breathing Techniques for Labor

Last update: 15 September, 2020

Childbirth is probably the most dreaded phase of pregnancy, especially when it comes to first-time mothers. Fortunately, there are training and preparation workshops where pregnant women can learn to control their breathing to help reduce the pain, as well as get realistic information about what may happen during labor.

In this sense, breathing techniques for labor are very beneficial for both the mother and the baby. It has been shown that relaxation and breathing techniques can help reduce stress and the chances of needing assisted delivery. In addition, they may guarantee that the baby has enough oxygen during delivery.

Many doctors and midwives believe that these exercises can help keep anxiety at bay and, thus, make the process less difficult and frightening for future moms. Studies confirm that breathing is fundamental for all soon-to-be mothers. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers that breathing techniques are the only possible way for women to suffer less pain and reduce tension. 

Rhythmic breathing during labor maximizes the amount of oxygen available to the mother and the baby. Breathing techniques can also help the mother cope with the pain of contractions, which can be unbearable.

We’re aware that breathing may seem very simple and obvious. In fact, it’s hard to believe that it can have such a great impact on the overwhelming sensations a woman experiences during childbirth. However, to everyone’s surprise, they may help make contractions more bearable.

Pregnant woman breathing.

Breathing techniques for labor

Breathing techniques can help the mother control and even overcome the pain she feels at a certain moment. First, the mother must find a breathing pattern that works for her. That way, once she’s in labor, she’ll be really prepared.

Blow out a candle

When you get a contraction, breathe deeply and then dissipate the pain in short breaths. Visualize that you’re blowing out a candle that’s right in front of you with your breathing.

The golden thread

  • Start by inhaling deeply through your nose right when a contraction starts.
  • Next, breathe softly through your mouth, visualizing the breath you’re blowing out as a golden thread that moves away from you as you exhale.
  • Make sure you keep in mind that this golden threat represents the pain going away.

Count your breathing

  • As you inhale, count to three.
  • While you exhale, count to 5.

The goal of this technique is to regulate your breathing, as well as give you something to focus on. Those women who need more distraction can count in a foreign language or do a countdown.

Avoid hyperventilating

Breathing too fast or expelling too much carbon dioxide can make you feel dizzy and cause tingling sensations in your fingers and toes.

Some future moms tend to hyperventilate during intense contractions. In cases like this, they need people to remind them to relax their breathing.

If you start hyperventilating, make sure to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth as slowly as possible.

The relaxation technique

This technique has both psychological and physical effects.

  • You should repeat the word “relax“, which has two syllables: “re” and “lax”, as you breathe.
  • When you inhale, think about the syllable “re” and keep it in your mind.
  • Then, do the same as you exhale with the syllable “lax”.
  • Concentrate your mind on the second syllable (“lax”) and prolong your exhalation more than your inhalation.

We’re convinced that this technique will help you release tension.

Woman breathing during contractions.

Have your partner’s support

In this special moment, count on the help of your partner (or someone you love and trust). Make sure they’re willing to help you with these breathing techniques. One of their most important missions will be to remind you to slow down if you start breathing too fast in response to an intense contraction. They should help you take slow and relaxed breaths.

Lastly, we recommend that you discuss the breathing techniques that you’d like to use with them. That way, they’ll be aware of what you want to do and remind you of the breathing pattern you chose every time you change it due to an intense contraction.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.