Breathing Techniques During Labor

Breathing is such a huge part of keeping everything running smoothly during labor! Here are a few of my favorites during labor, and you might even find them helpful to use in everyday activities!

  • Square Breathing.
    • When I was growing up, I had a lot of anxiety, and a family friend taught me this breathing before we boarded a plane home from New York, and it helped a lot to not only calm down because I was thinking about something other than what I was so anxious about, but it physiologically calms you down, because when your breath is slowed down, your body isn’t producing the fight or flight stress hormones that make you panic.
    • The easiest way to remember it is by the number 4! Breath IN for 4 counts, HOLD it for 4 counts, breath OUT for 4 counts, HOLD it out for four counts. And repeat 4 times, or as many as you feel you need to find your center.
  • In-between Surge Breathing
    • This one is also a super common breathing technique, but I first learned about it in the Curtis Method HypnoBirthing Class. I helped tremendously, and this is actually my very favorite out of all three of these techniques. I use this one often, and in between surges, I found it extremely helpful!
    • Breath IN for 4 counts, and OUT for 8 counts.
    • When you are in labor, your uterus contracting is using oxygen, and it’s so important to be replenishing it without hyperventilating. I’ve heard before that when you breathe out for longer than you breathe in, that can help prevent that hyperventilation, but it also helps keep everything loose and relaxed, which is a high priority during any type of childbirth!
  • Breathing DURING Contractions
    • This one I also learned from Lauralyn {find her classes HERE, it’s well worth it! You can also read our post about Birth Classes HERE.} As with any relaxation technique, it can be interpreted differently or modified for every individual. For me, I found this helpful because since a contraction, or surge, birthing wave, {whichever you prefer to call it,} is obviously more intense than the time in between surges, it’s nice to have a breath to match that intensity. It’s a powerful breath that can also help you breath your baby down, {or “J” breathing, like it’s called in some birthing techniques. More on that in another post!}
    • Breathe IN for 10 quickly paced and powerful counts, and OUT for 10 powerful counts. This also helps to oxygenate that uterus, and the first time we took the class, I was worried about hyperventilating with breathing in an out like that,  and when I asked her about it, she said that because it’s working so hard, it will use it up! But, of course, always do what feels right in the moment for your body!:)

So there are just a few breathing techniques that can help you stay loose and relaxed, which in labor can help the dilation and progression that gets you steps closer to meeting your sweet baby! These breaths can also be coupled with noises, like the ones HERE. Really, whatever you feel is right for you in the moment is right. But, the more practice that goes into it beforehand makes for better “muscle memory” and is easier to fall back into on game day. If you have anything that you’ve found helpful in your own labors, I would love to hear about it! Please feel free to share in the comments below!



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