Breathing is a tool that can be used to help you deal with your labour. Falling short of going into structured breathing techniques (that may become useless as your labour intensifies, or require too much energy to maintain), there are a few tips that can make your breathing work for you.
- Using your own pace and rhythm of breathing.
- Keeping yourself relaxed, for as long as possible. You and your baby will benefit from the extra oxygen that is needed for the hard work of labour.
- Breathing in through either your nose or mouth, and releasing your breath out through your relaxed throat and jaw. Start this at the beginning of the contraction and maintain it as much as possible until it ends, then breathe normally.
- Allowing your breathing to match the intensity of the contraction, rather than fighting to contain the breath or pain - work with it rather than against it.
- Releasing a sound if it helps you. On the out-breath, a sigh or moan can feel good. It can be felt vibrating down your throat - practise in the shower where no one can hear you.
- Try to avoid fast, rapid breathing, as this will tire you and cause you to hyperventilate. If you are doing this during a contraction, get your support people to remind you to slow down after the contraction has gone, or re-breathe through cupped hands over your nose and mouth. This lowers the oxygen level in your blood that can cause dizziness and tingling sensations, and increases the carbon dioxide in your system, needed to compensate for the over breathing.