Useful Breathing Techniques For Easing Labor

5 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

breathing techniques helped you during labor

You might have heard about how breathing techniques help during labor. You would have also seen videos in which a midwife motivates a woman in labor to take deep breaths. If you are a first-time mom, labor can be the most intimidating part of pregnancy.

Thankfully, you can handle it in a better way by practicing a few breathing techniques during labor. Breathing helps to ease the pain and discomfort that accompany labor and helps you stay calm during labor. Continue reading and get an idea about some breathing techniques which will help you to go through labor smoothly.

In This Article

How Does Breathing Help With Labor?

When you are anxious or nervous, your breathing gets shallow and rapid. Panic breathing can make you feel dizzy and easily get exhausted as it cuts down the amount of oxygen you breathe in. During labor, you need to conserve as much energy as possible.

To conserve energy, you have to ensure sufficient oxygen intake for yourself and the baby. Moreover, during labor breathing is considered very effective and is a natural pain-controlling technique.

You may wonder- “How is breathing going to help control labor pain?” Well, here are some reasons:

  • The slow, rhythmic pattern of breathing increases the oxygen supply in the body and more oxygen is available to you and your unborn baby. As you continue to provide more oxygen to your body, you will feel more energized, and this will, in turn, increase the chances of your labor advancing smoothly
  • The slow breathing technique will help you to relax a bit. Therefore, if you concentrate on breathing slowly and gradually, the pain and discomfort of a contraction will affect you less
  • As you have a contraction, if you concentrate on breathing, the contraction will be more productive and labor will progress fast

When To Start Breathing Exercises?

When To Start Breathing Exercises

You can start breathing exercises during the early stages of your pregnancy itself. It has been found that women who practice breathing exercises throughout pregnancy are more in control of their bodies during labor and have a smooth labor.

This is because breathing exercises not only ensure an adequate quantity of oxygen supply which is required for the healthy development of the baby. It also provides energy to the mother. If you have been practicing breathing exercises throughout your pregnancy, it will become a habit and you will naturally follow these breathing techniques while you are in labor.

Here are 3 breathing exercises you can practice during pregnancy:

1. Belly Breathing

Sit down with the legs folded. Now breathe in deeply. You can control your breath through the counting method thus keeping your mind preoccupied with something. As you inhale, slowly count till four or five. Then, as you exhale, take it up to six or seven. Do this breathing exercise 10 minutes daily

2. Nose and Mouth Breathing

In this technique, you breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. Both breathing in and breathing out should be done at a slow pace. Just sit or stand straight while doing this

3. Ujjayi Breathing

This is a yogic breathing technique, which helps you maximize your energy level during pregnancy. Here you breathe in and out through your nose. Your mouth is shut throughout the process. Just concentrate on the sound of breathing.

As you breathe in, you will make a hissing sound. While you breathe out, tighten your throat. Now the breath-out sound will be similar to the sound of the ocean. Repeat it for at least 5 minutes every day

Some Breathing Techniques For Easing Labor

Some Breathing Techniques For Easing Labor

There are breathing techniques designed for different stages of labor. Some techniques that you can follow are:

1. Breathing Techniques For Early Labor

During early labor,

  • Follow slow rhythmic breathing when you are in the early stages of labor
  • Ensure you take a longer time to breathe out than to breathe in

2. Breathing Techniques For Active Labor

During active labor

  • Once you feel a contraction coming, breathe in deeply through your mouth and breathe out in short bursts as if you are blowing a candle. You can imagine your pain going away with every puff
  • Switch to light breathing that is inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth as the intensity of your contraction increases
  • When contractions are at peak, take short, quick breaths, like panting, in and out through your mouth (no need to involve the nose). You can combine this pattern with a deep breath here and there according to the intensity of your contractions
  • Remember to go back to the slow and regular breathing as the contractions slow down

3. Breathing Techniques For Transition Phase

The major issue that you face during the transition phase is your urge to ‘push’. Pushing will be allowed only if you are dilated enough. Otherwise, the nurse or the doctor will ask you not to push.

This is where the pant-pant-blow pattern of breathing is helpful. Concentrating on this type of breathing helps to prolong your urge to push.

4. Breathing During Delivery

Once the pushing stage starts, do not hold your breath

  • Breathe in and breathe out gently through each contraction
  • When you feel the tendency to push, take a full breath in, tuck your jaw into your chest and exhale gradually as you bear down
  • Keeping your pelvic floor as relaxed as possible while pushing
  • Keep in mind to deep breath in before every push
  • If your partner is with you during labor, he can help you with the breathing strategy, which will be both energizing and relaxing for you. He can co-breathe and count with you as you breathe. This will help to distract you from the pain and concentrate more on contractions, making the contractions more productive

It is quite natural for your mouth to get dry while practicing breathing techniques throughout labor. Sipping water or sucking ice chips in between the contraction will take care of your dry mouth.

Do let us know if the above breathing techniques helped you during labor.


1. Does Breathing Exercises Speed Up Labor?

Consistent breathing during labor helps the mother stay focused and provides oxygen to both herself and her child. It has also been demonstrated that using specific breathing methods during labor can lessen the amount of blood lost. Depending on where you are in the labor process, you may need to adopt a different breathing technique.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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