Breathing in Labour

By Suzanne Swan

Here are some breathing techniques to practice for labour.  Essentially you are experimenting and practising to let the breathing flow effortlessly in its own individual rhythm. Getting to know one’s own breathing rhythm is the foundation on which to build more free-flowing breathing. Remember not to hold the breath, force the exhalation by pushing out more air than necessary and grasp for breath on the inhalation (flaring of nostrils). When you focus on your breath in a relaxed way you can easily engage in the process of labour, creating for yourself an altered state of consciousness that will allow the optimal birthing hormones to release spontaneously and ensure the safest possible birth for you and your baby.

Here are some techniques to practice daily in the weeks and months ahead….

1. Full concentration on breath - the Yogic Breath

Your aim is to have no thoughts left for pain or fear. Stay in the here and now. Mindfulness.

  • Yogic breath - focus on counting the breath - breathe in 4, breathe out 6
  • Golden thread breath to relax the jaw and pelvis – breath out through the lips – imagine your blowing out through a straw
  • Cleansing breath – sighing out as you go limp

2. Breathing in the optimal amount of oxygen to the body and the baby

Your aim is for the body to be able to function unimpeded and with less pain and stress. Trust in your body signals and needs and allowing the body to breathe, to follow it and flow with it

  • Womb meditation – breathe into the belly directing both energy and oxygen into the uterus and baby. Visualise white light flowing to your baby.
  • Extend the exhalation - breathe out longer than you breathe in. It is important not to tense the abdominal muscles to ‘assist’ each breath, thus wasting energy.
  • Get in touch with gravity – trust in body’s ability to flow naturally and effortlessly. Surrender to the strong body sensations.

3. Breathing with meditative rhythms

Create a trance like state where the reality of stress and pain does not reach you. Your aim is to become one with your body, where you are your breath, you are your womb, and no longer head or mind. Ie. visualise waves flowing in and flowing out, breathe in rhythm with the waves. Get in touch with gravity and trust in the body’s ability to flow naturally and effortlessly as you surrender to the birth rhythm. Every woman births in her own time and way, and to her own drum beat or rhythm