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Breathing Techniques in Preparation for Giving Birth

Breathing Techniques in Preparation for Giving Birth

Giving birth is a momentous occasion for both parents as they are about to meet their newborn. Still, mothers cannot deny that it brings a certain level of stress, especially with the labor pains. But moms can do a lot of things to relax and lessen the pain of labor. One of them is to perform some breathing techniques for giving birth.

Patterned Breathing Techniques for Giving Birth

Patterned breathing is when you breathe to a specific rate and depth. This means that a mother can breathe deeply, filling her abdomen with air. She can also breathe light enough to just fill her chest. In the end, patterned breathing aims to find a calming and relaxing rate and depth.

The Benefits of Patterned Breathing Techniques for Giving Birth

  • It provides the mother with a sense of control, as she chooses the rate and depth.
  • It has a calming and relaxing effect.
  • It lessens labor pain.
  • It increases oxygen supply, which gives strength to both mom and baby.

Patterned Breathing Techniques for the First Stage of Labor

Slow Breathing

You can use slow breathing when the contractions begin. Use this especially if you can no longer talk or move because of the pain. To do slow breathing exercise for giving birth:

  1. Take a big breath and release it with a big sigh. Allow your body to go limp all over as you release the air.
  2. Focus your attention on a particular thought or object, depending on your position.
  3. Breathe through your nose and release the air through your mouth by sighing.
  4. Pause for a while until you feel the need to breathe again.
  5. For each breath, focus on different parts of your body.

Note that you can do slow breathing for as long as you want. Typically, once you can no longer focus because of the pain, you can switch to another type of breathing technique.

Light Accelerated Breathing

During the active part of the first stage of labor, you may need to switch to light accelerated breathing. This is characterized by rapid breathing – inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

Here are the instructions for light accelerated breathing techniques for giving birth:

  1. Take a big breath and release it through sighing. Allow your body to go limp all over as you release the air.
  2. Focus your attention on anything, like your partner or a picture on the wall.
  3. Initially, take a slow breath. After this, adapt your breathing to the peak of your contractions.
  4. If the contraction peaks early, take light, rapid breaths early in the contraction. If the contraction peaks gradually, then just slowly fasten your breathing.
  5. Continue to adjust your shallow breaths to the peaks of your contractions. The rate should be about 1 breath per second.
  6. As the contractions decrease in intensity, slow down on your breathing as well.
  7. When the contractions end, breathe through your nose and release the air through your mouth by sighing.

Pant-pant-blow Breathing

Another breathing exercise is the “pant-pant-blow” breathing. This is also called “hee-hee-who” breathing. To do this:

  1. Take a big breath and release it through a sigh. Allow your body to go limp all over as you release the air.
  2. Focus your attention. Use anything to focus on, including photos.
  3. Breathe through your mouth at the rate of 5 to 20 breaths in 10 seconds.
  4. For every 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th breath, release a long sigh. You can verbalize this long breath through the word “who.”
  5. When the contractions end, take at least 2 relaxing breaths.

Patterned Breathing for the Second Stage of Labor

Expulsion breathing is one of the breathing techniques for giving birth. Commonly, mothers use this when the 2nd stage of labor starts or when the cervix is fully dilated. You can do this by:

  1. Take a big breath and release it through a sigh. Allow your body to go limp all over as you release the air.
  2. Focus your attention on the movement of your baby. You can also focus on your partner.
  3. When you can no longer hold the urge to push, take a big breath, place your chin to your chest, and lean forward.
  4. Bear down and release the air slowly by moaning or grunting.
  5. Let the contractions guide you on how hard you’ll push.
  6. On the times when the contractions shortly subside, breathe deeply to get more oxygen for you and your baby.
  7. When the contractions end, take a couple of relaxing breaths.

Lamaze Breathing Techniques for Giving Birth

The Lamaze breathing techniques for giving birth, according to experts, are not just about breathing. Lamaze is a full program filled with various methods for labor and delivery. This is why you can find a lot of Lamaze Classes for parents.

In essence, Lamaze breathing techniques for giving birth have similarities with the patterned breathing exercises. To be more effective, however, it also incorporates:

  • Massage
  • Movements
  • Slow dancing
  • Position changes
  • Yoga
  • “Finding your rhythm”

Other Breathing Techniques for Giving Birth

Aside from patterned and Lamaze, there are other breathing techniques for giving birth. They are:

The Relax Breathing Method

You can do this by focusing on nothing but the word, relax. Think of the syllable “RE” when breathing in. Then, think of the word “LAX” when breathing out. If your attention strays, don’t worry. Simply get back on the word relax and time it with your breathing.

The Counted Breathing Method

Breathe in by counting up to a certain number that you are comfortable with. Let’s say you breathe in while counting up to number 3. Breathe out by counting to a slightly higher number, let’s say 5. Choose a number depending on your comfort.

Paced Breathing Method

The paced breathing method involves a labor coach. When the coach says “Contraction begins,” do the following:

  1. Place your hand on your abdomen.
  2. Take 5 to 10 breaths within a minute.
  3. When you inhale, move your hand from the lower abdomen to your ribs.
  4. When you exhale, move your hand back to the lower abdomen.
  5. Breathe normally when the coach says “Contraction ends.”

The movement of the hand signifies a relaxing massage for the pain. The coach will guide you through your contractions as he or she will time it. Remember to still focus on something as you do this breathing method.

You can use a lot of breathing techniques for giving birth. Many pregnancy classes give you choices and teach both the mom and her partner on the proper ways to do it.

The bottom line is to focus on something and work on your breathing in a way that’s comforting and relaxing for you.

Learn more about pregnancy and giving birth, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

BREATHING AND RELAXATION TECHNIQUES FOR LABOR AND DELIVERY
https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/specialties/obgyn/pregnancy/delivery/pregnancy-delivery-breathing-relaxation
Accessed June 09, 2020

Breathing techniques for labour
https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a544499/breathing-techniques-for-labour
Accessed June 09, 2020

Lamaze Breathing: What You Need to Know
https://www.lamaze.org/lamaze-breathing
Accessed June 09, 2020

Patterned Breathing During Labor
https://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/patterned-breathing/
Accessed June 09, 2020

Breathing for pain relief during labor
https://evidencebasedbirth.com/breathing-for-pain-relief-during-labor/
Accessed June 09, 2020

Picture of the author
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. on Jun 12, 2020
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