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      Effective Breathing Techniques for Labor Every Pregnant Woman Should Know


      Effective Breathing Techniques for Labor Every Pregnant Woman Should Know

      Updated on 14 April 2023

      Once a woman becomes sure about the arrival of a tiny one into this world, she begins to prepare for it. From listing things that will be needed after the birth of their baby to brainstorming baby names, choosing the right doctor and hospital to packing a hospital bag, the list is endless. But as the D-day nears, dealing with anxiety and fear of childbirth begins to top that list. To manage the fear of childbirth and prepare for a smooth delivery, it is worthwhile to educate yourself about various aspects of the whole labor and delivery process and explore breathing techniques during labor to ease the pain and stress.

      How can breathing exercises help during labor?

      The more you learn about labor and birth, the more you will find out about different patterns of breathing that can be used at various stages of labor. You will be taught to use breathing so that you can focus on making each contraction productive for the process of birthing. Patterned breathing is extremely helpful in making a woman cope with various types of discomfort, pain, fear, and anxiety.

      Learning breathing techniques early on in pregnancy is a great way to put them to work for you. Practice your breathing techniques throughout your pregnancy to ease anxieties and stress. By the time your labor arrives and you have to put these techniques to actual work, you will almost be like a professional in breathing.

      You may also like: How To Maintain Your Mental Health During Pregnancy

      Some helpful breathing techniques during labor

      During labor, you should aim to have rhythmical breathing. You must not let the inhaling or the in-breath get longer than the exhaling or the out-breath. In the midst of extremely strong contractions, your breathing can get shallower. It is absolutely normal to have shallow breaths as long as you maintain a rhythm and your breathing does not become faster and faster and cause you to do panic-breathing. These days, many hospitals have breathing experts to guide you and even your doctor can advise you about the correct breathing techniques and patterns you should follow.

      Some effective breathing techniques during pregnancy are:

      1. Relax Breathing

      It is simply a way of using the two syllables in the word ‘relax’ which are “re” and “lax”. While inhaling, just think "re" and while exhaling just think "lax". Try to release any tension in your body while breathing out.

      2. Counted Breathing

      An effective breathing technique- counted breathing involves counting slowly up to four or five while inhaling and counting four or five again while you exhale.

      3. Lamaze Breathing

      Lamaze is a popular birthing method, especially in the U.S.A and rhythmical breathing is one of its key aspects. These rhythmical breathing techniques focus on concentration and help in relaxation thereby helping women turn their attention away from painful contractions. Specialized Lamaze teachers and classes are available and you can consider going to one.

      4. Mouth Breathing

      Another effective way is to try inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You should make your mouth very soft as you exhale the breath. Some women even find making a sound such as ‘oohhh’ or ‘aaahh’ while exhaling to be very relaxing.

      You may also like: 7 Labor Signals That Can Tell You That Your Little One Might Make an Appearance Soon

      You can do slow breathing during early labor when your contractions begin to get regular. Then you can move to various other breathing techniques during the advanced stage of your labor. But, it is important that you do not feel bound by a specific breathing technique. The trick is to be aware of and practice different breathing techniques beforehand. This way, you can switch to different breathing techniques during labor if you feel that the one you have been using is not working for you or if you simply have the urge to do something different.

      How can your partner provide a helping hand?

      It is often very tough to maintain a breathing rhythm and stay relaxed when you are having painful contractions. A tired, stressed and helpless kind of situation faced by women during labor makes it even more difficult. In such a situation, a birth partner who could be your husband can play an important role.

      • He can help keep your breathing steady by breathing with you.

      • Eye contact with him can be helpful and relaxing for you.

      • He can help you relax and maintain a breathing rhythm by holding your hands.

      • If you are finding it difficult, you can just follow his breathing pattern.

      You should practice with your breathing partner during the early stages of pregnancy, it may feel weird to begin with but slowly both of you will get used to it. Co-breathing with your breathing partner is seen to be very effective and useful during labor when you just feel like giving up and think that you can’t go anymore.

      Breathing and pushing

      During the advanced stage of labor, you have to push your baby out. You should simply try to push as many numbers of times during each contraction that feels right to you. Women generally have the urge to push four to five times in each contraction and take several breaths in between. You must maintain rhythmical breathing between contractions as it is very important since it helps maximize the oxygen available to you and your baby during labor. Women are also strongly advised against holding their breath and pushing for a long duration as it may damage the pelvic area and also disrupt the oxygen supply to their baby.

      You may also like: 10 Effective Exercises to Induce Labor Fast & Have a Safe Delivery

      Does breathwork help in an epidural too?

      If you have opted for an epidural, it is advisable to not push for at least 50-60 minutes from the time you are fully dilated. This should be followed unless the baby’s head becomes visible or you are getting an exceptionally strong urge or feeling to push. Also, you must stay calm and composed if don’t feel like pushing. It happens with a lot of women and your doctor is there to guide and help you and tell you when to start pushing.

      You may also like: Epidural: Advantages, Disadvantages & Risks

      It's important to have all your and your baby's essentials ready when you arrive at the hospital for delivery. The Mylo Hospital Bag Essentials Kit can be your ideal companion for the big day and can help ensure that your delivery goes smoothly.


      It can be concluded that breathing which is such a normal part of life otherwise, plays a very important role during delivery. It can not only help reduce your stress and pain during labor, but also help in having a safe and relaxed delivery experience. All you need is to be aware, practice during the early stages of pregnancy and follow the simple but effective breathing techniques during labor.


      1. Kamalifard M, Shahnazi M, Sayyah Melli M, Allahverdizadeh S, Toraby S, Ghahvechi A. (2012). The efficacy of massage therapy and breathing techniques on pain intensity and physiological responses to labor pain. NCBI

      2. Yuksel H, Cayir Y, Kosan Z, Tastan K. (2017). Effectiveness of breathing exercises during the second stage of labor on labor pain and duration: a randomized controlled trial.

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