How to Breathe During Labor
There is much more magic to using your breath than simply just using it to survive. By using specific patterns to breathe you can feel more grounded, reduce anxiety, feel a deeper connection in your relationships, and of course, reduce pain when in labor.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice conscious breathing in the weeks and months before your due date. It will be much easier to focus on your breathing during your labor if you know what you're doing, rather than figuring it out as you go.
Get into a comfortable, side-lying position to practice somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Make use of as many pillows and blankets as you need to support your head, belly, and legs. Many women find it especially comfortable to place a pillow or two between their legs as they lay to make room for the baby in their pelvis. Close your eyes to remove any visual distractions and begin to breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth with an audible sigh, dragging out the exhale just a little bit longer than the inhale.
As you practice your breathing exercises, start slow and build up to longer lengths of time. It’s okay if when you start practicing you can only focus on breathing for a few minutes. That’s perfectly normal. Soon you’ll be able to hold your focus for longer periods of time.
Fears Surrounding Birth
It’s common for women to have fears surrounding birth, especially for first-time moms. Sometimes these fears can be helpful, like creating a game plan when labor doesn’t go as planned. But other times women can hold onto these fears and allow them to spiral into something detrimental. Using a breathing and visualization exercise can allow you to let go of your fears surrounding birth.
To begin, sit or lay somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes or direct your attention right in front of you. Inhale through your nose and bring your awareness down to your baby, sending them a loving message. Draw your breath out to the count of seven while connecting to your mother and the mothers before her.
Picture your mother giving birth to you how you would have wanted it to be. Continue breathing in through your nose, and breathing out to the count of seven. On your next out-breath, visualize how you want your baby’s birth to be, blessed by your maternal ancestors. Inhale peace, and exhale your doubts, negative emotions, and fears. When you are finished, bring your hands together in a prayer position in front of your heart to complete the exercise and thank your ancestors.
This breathing exercise can bring you great comfort, more trust in yourself, and a feeling of empowerment.
Breathing While in Labor
- Breathe in through your nose, then exhale through your mouth with a sigh, releasing any tension stored in your body.
- Open your throat and let your jaw hang open. Begin groaning in a low tone with every breath out. Doing so will help dilate the cervix and give your mind something to focus on. Rock and sway your body if it feels good to you.
- Repeat positive affirmations if you feel so inclined. Imagine your mother, grandmother, and the mothers before you experiencing a beautiful birth and connect with them.
- Continue to breathe out any fears surrounding birth and opening up your body, surrendering to the contractions. Visualize your baby descending into the birth canal and being born in a calm and serene environment.
- After your baby is born, allow your breathing to return to normal, and thank your baby for sharing this journey with you.
Keep in mind that focusing on your breathing will become more challenging as your labor progresses. You will need to direct your attention inward and allow your body to do what it needs as you bring your baby down the birth canal and into your loving arms. The actual breathing technique for labor is not complicated and is relatively easy, but as your contractions become stronger, they can be harder to manage. You can ask your partner to breathe with you to help keep you on track.
For more tips on mastering your breathing for labor, contact us today!