September 26, 2021

Labour Breathing Techniques

What is it all about?

By Katie Hilton

Many childbirth professionals big up breathing techniques during labour, but what is it all about, what are the techniques and how can you be sure they will help. Breathing seems such a simple and obvious thing to do and it’s hard to believe that it can really have an impact on the often overwhelming feelings that come with labour. However, it really does help so it pays to make sure you learn a few techniques.

Why does it help?

During labour, controlling your breathing is the most important, natural pain relief method you have. Slow rhythmic breathing maximises the amount of oxygen going into your body and is subsequently available to both you and your baby. The more oxygen you have in your body the better you will feel and the more in control you will feel of your labour. This will also help with the progress of your labour. Secondly, being in control of your breathing will prevent your from tensing up, which can make the pain of a contraction worse. The more you focus on your breathing, the more you can let the pain wash over you.

Discover your Natural Pattern

Close your eyes for just a moment and focus on your breathing, notice the rhythmic fashion of it. When you breathe in there is a slight pause before you breathe back out again. You then also pause slightly before taking the next breath into your lungs. During labour try your best to replicate this pattern, however try to ensure the out breath is longer than the breath you take in. This will encourage your muscles to relax and reduce the pain from the contractions.

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The Candle Method

As you feel a contraction building, take a deep breath through your mouth and then blow away the pain in short busts as if you were blowing out a candle. Imagine the pain of your contraction disappearing with each blow.


Counting whilst breathing can be a great way of controlling how you breathe and also gives you something else to focus on during each contraction. As you take a breath in slowly count to four or five and then on your out breath continue counting up to six or seven.

Golden Tread Method

Close your eyes and slowly breathe in through your nose, then purse your lips slightly and breathe out through this small gap. As you do this picture a golden thread gently swirling away from you.

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From MAM
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