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How To Breathe During Labor: Helpful Tips To Prepare Yourself

How To Breathe During Labor

Before your due date, you can benefit from practicing breathing techniques. 

Breathing patterns are performed during labor because they are calming and relaxing. They also help women respond to the pain.

It’s a good idea to start practicing breathing techniques once you enter the third trimester. 

Knowing how different breathing techniques are performed and why they’re essential can help you have a smoother labor and delivery process. 

Today, we will discuss some of the different breathing techniques you can use in labor. Read on to learn more about how to breathe during labor.

Why Breathing During Labor Is Important

The main reason why women need to learn about different breathing techniques before going into labor is that patterned breathing is a natural form of pain management. 

Giving birth is no easy process and can be very uncomfortable. Breathing techniques help to create less stress on your body and the baby.

Breathing techniques are also an excellent way to increase the oxygen supply to your body and your baby. 

Increasing your oxygen supply before going into labor is an excellent way to get more energy and feel stronger. 

It can also help the labor process go smoother, preventing your muscles and body from tensing up. 

When you’re tense, you will feel more pain.

Many women find that having a rhythm for breathing helps them stay calm and focused during labor. 

It helps them feel in control as the contractions begin. They begin to feel like they are helping the process with every breath rhythm.

How To Breathe During Labor

How To Breathe Through Contractions

Pregnant women can try several different breathing patterns to get through the various stages of birth. 

Always choose the technique that you’re most comfortable with. Different women find different breathing styles calming. 

We recommend practicing breathing patterns throughout your third trimester to see which type keeps you relaxed.

Once you’ve learned specific breathing techniques, you will better understand which ones work best. 

Women must change their breathing patterns throughout the different stages of labor. 

The first stage of labor is when the contractions begin. During this time, breathing slowly and practicing light breathing techniques are recommended.

Let’s go over some of the different breathing techniques pregnant women can practice when contractions begin.

1. Organizing Breath

The first breathing technique to learn is organizing breath. This type of breathing is performed once the contractions begin. 

It’s a familiar breathing pattern that lets other people know that the contractions have begun.

Organizing breath should be done before and after every contraction. This is when you inhale a deep breath through your nose and release it through your mouth.

When you practice controlled breathing techniques, this should be your first. Not only is it the first technique used, but you will also use this technique for other breathing patterns we talk about today. 

It’s an excellent way to remain centered and focused. It can also help you release tension and boost your baby’s oxygen.

2. Slow Breathing

Slow breathing is similar to organizing breath. However, women typically switch from organizing breath to slow breathing once the contractions reach the point where they can no longer hold a conversation.

Start breathing using the same technique as you would for organizing breath. Then, find a focal point where you can keep your train of thought. 

Tune out everything around you and keep yourself focused as you slow down your breathing rate. Take a relaxing breath and inhale very slowly. Then, calmly exhale.

Allow your body to go limp and get as relaxed as possible. This technique is an excellent way to manage the pains caused by contractions.

3. Variable Breathing/ Transition Breathing

Variable breathing (transition breathing) is another technique when your contractions get more intense. 

You may know this style as the pant-pant-blow breathing pattern. This is done by taking a deep breath through the nose. When you exhale, it will be done in 3 parts. 

First, let out two short pants, then exhale one long breath.

Each repetition of this breathing pattern should take 10 seconds. You should continue the pant-pant-blow breathing pattern until the contraction decreases.

4. Light Accelerated Breathing

If you were using slow breathing techniques while having early contractions, you should start the light accelerated breathing once they get more intense. 

This is when you take quick, shallow breaths.

Make sure you’re sitting in a relaxed position before you start. Your neck and shoulders shouldn’t feel tense. 

Start with some calming breaths using the organizing breath technique to release tension and gradually lighten your breaths. 

You will want to take shallow breaths at a rate of 1 per second.

How To Breathe During Labor

Once the labor stages begin, you must try different breathing patterns. 

Trying faster breathing techniques is recommended for the second stage of labor. 

Let’s look at some different ways you can practice controlled breathing techniques during the second stage of labor.

1. Expulsive Breathing

Expulsive breathing is one of the most common techniques for women entering the second labor stage. With this breathing pattern, you will let the contractions guide your breathing speed.

Always start with the organizing breath routine and inhale slowly. 

Pick up or slow down your breathing rate as needed. This will continue until you can no longer resist the urge to push. 

Once you reach this phase, you should take a deep breath and lean forward. Then, exhale while letting out a moan.

How To Breathe During Labor

2. Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is a technique used early during the second stage of labor. Always keep one of your hands on your belly and the other on your chest when you practice this technique. 

Inhale deeply through your nose as you push your belly outward. Don’t move your chest when you’re making this breathing pattern.

Puck your lips up and exhale as though you were whistling. Don’t allow all of the breath to escape at once.

As you’re exhaling, use the hand on your belly to help you get all the air out. Always stay relaxed and take your time with this breathing technique.

Why You Shouldn’t Hold Your Breath During Labor

Specific breathing techniques are used throughout the different stages of labor as the contractions increase. They are relaxing techniques so women can stay focused on the process. You must continue taking calm breaths to help you get through the difficult moments of labor and delivery.

There will be times during labor when your body will give you false alarms. You’ll get the urge to push, but it won’t be the right time.

One mistake women make is holding their breath when this happens. If you get the urge to hold your breath, raise your chin and take a relaxing breath.

Holding your breath during labor can put extra stress on your body. It can also decrease blood flow to your uterus and baby. 

Other problems that can arise from holding your breath during labor include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress on heart
  • Increased risk of fainting

Other Ways To Stay Comfortable During Labor

Controlled breathing is one of the best ways to stay comfortable during labor. It’s no secret that labor can be an uncomfortable process for women. 

Every woman has different challenges along the way. You can do several other things, along with controlled breathing, to remain comfortable during this process.

  • Sit in a rocking chair. Rocking back and forth while using patterned breathing techniques is an efficient way to relax.
  • Walk around. As your contractions increase, pacing around can help decrease the pain.
  • Don’tDon’t stay in one position for too long. Try to avoid lying down on your back. It’s recommended to sit upright but not remain seated in the same position for more than 1 hour at a time.
  • Ask for a massage. Have your partner or someone close to you rub your neck, shoulders, and back to release the tension.
  • Hot and cold compresses. Relieve your back tension with an ice pack or heating pad. This will also help to improve circulation.
  • Hydrotherapy for relaxation. This can be done by sitting in the shower and spraying the stream against your back.

Final Words

Following breathing patterns can help you manage pain and stay focused during labor. When the contractions first begin, slow and organized breathing techniques are beneficial. Once the second stage of labor begins, fast and light breathing techniques are used. Using your contractions as a guide to your breathing techniques is recommended.

Have you started practicing any patterned breathing relaxation techniques we mentioned today? Let us know which one you find most relaxing in the comments below.

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