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Breathing Techniques

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

When a woman is in labour, her body goes through a range of changes. These changes can cause pain, anxiety, and fatigue, all of which can interfere with the progress of labour.

However, breathing can help to mitigate some of these symptoms.

Firstly, proper breathing techniques can help to manage pain. During labour, women experience contractions as their uterus tightens and relaxes. These contractions can be very painful, and without proper breathing, women may tense up and make the pain worse. Breathing deeply and slowly, on the other hand, can help to relax the body and reduce pain.

Secondly, breathing can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Labour can be an overwhelming experience, and anxiety can slow down the progress of labour. By practicing deep breathing and relaxation techniques, women can reduce their stress levels and help labour to progress more smoothly.

Finally, breathing can increase a woman's sense of control during labour. When women feel in control of their breathing, they feel more in control of the labour process overall. This can help them to feel more confident, less anxious, and more empowered.

Tips and Techniques for Effective Breathing During Labour

There are a variety of breathing techniques that women can use during labour, depending on their individual needs and preferences. Some common techniques include:

Slow and Deep Breathing: This technique involves taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Women can use this technique during early labour to help them relax and manage pain.

Patterned Breathing: This technique involves using a specific pattern of breaths, such as inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, and exhaling for four counts. Women can use this technique during active labour to help them manage pain and stay focused.

Vocalization: This technique involves making noise while breathing, such as moaning or humming. Women can use this technique during transition (the final stage of labour) to help them manage the intense pain and pressure.

Relaxation Breathing: This technique involves focusing on relaxing the body with each exhale. Women can use this technique during any stage of labour to reduce stress and anxiety.


Breathing is a crucial aspect of labour, and effective breathing techniques can help women manage pain, reduce stress, and increase their sense of control. By practicing various breathing techniques during pregnancy and labour, women can develop the skills they need to have a positive and empowering birth experience. If you're expecting, consider taking a hypnobirthing class or working with a doula to learn more about breathing techniques and how they can benefit you during labour.

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