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3 Best Breathing Techniques for Labor: A Guide to Managing Intense Sensations

Breathing during labor is one of the most natural and effective ways to manage the intense sensations and help the body relax, allowing birth to unfold smoothly. As a childbirth educator, doula, and mother, I, Avnish Singh, am here to guide you through three labor breathing techniques tailored for each stage of labor. If you’re new to this website, make sure to subscribe and hit the bell so you don’t miss out on any future empowering articles that equip you for an empowered pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience.

1. De-Stressor Breath

The first breath technique is the de-stressor breath. This can be used as soon as your contractions become too intense to help distract yourself and manage pain.

How to Do It:

  1. Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
  2. Exhale through your mouth for six seconds.
  3. On the inhale, send air to your uterus and baby.
  4. On the exhale, imagine your body is a ragdoll and let all the tension leave your body, becoming as limp as possible.

Practice Together:

  • Place your hands on your belly.
  • Inhale through your nose (1, 2, 3, 4).
  • Exhale through your mouth (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
  • Repeat two more times.

2. Horse Lips

The second technique is horse lips, which helps relax the cheek and jaw muscles, consequently relaxing the pelvic floor. This breath is particularly useful as labor progresses and you feel deep pressure in your vagina and pelvic floor.

How to Do It:

  1. Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
  2. Exhale by vibrating your lips together like this: brrrr for six seconds.

Practice Together:

  • Inhale through your nose (1, 2, 3, 4).
  • Exhale with horse lips (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
  • Repeat two more times.

Also Read: 100+ Maternity Pose Ideas for Photoshoot 2024

3. Cough Breath

The final technique is the cough breath, ideal for when you experience the “ring of fire” as your baby’s head stretches the vaginal tissues ready to be born. This technique helps avoid pushing too hard and potentially causing a perineal tear.

How to Do It:

  1. Inhale deeply to give your baby lots of oxygen.
  2. When you feel the urge to push, exhale and simply cough to gently push down on your baby.

Practice Together:

  • Inhale through your nose.
  • Feel the urge and cough (six times).
  • Repeat two more times.

Using these three effective breathing techniques can help you manage labor’s intense sensations and promote a smoother, more comfortable birthing experience.

Further Resources

For more practice and in-depth instruction on breathing during labor, check out the link provided. Additionally, if you want to be fully prepared for labor, knowing your comfort measures, positions, labor options, and how to support a happier, healthier, easier physiologic birth, explore the full Built to Birth course linked below. You can also try out the free mini birth class.

Thanks for being with me in this article. I hope these techniques empower you for a positive birth experience. See you in the next article!