Breathing for Pain Relief During Childbirth

By Samantha Thurlby-Brooks
It does sound a little strange to say “remember to breathe” during labour, but you’ll be surprised how often we hold our breath in day-to-day activities, let alone while giving birth.When you’re experiencing any sort of discomfort, the immediate reaction is to hold your breath. This will cause you far more discomfort, as well as making you light headed, unfocused and increase your experience of pain as well as making you stressed and irritable.

To force your breath while experiencing any discomfort or intense feeling will also create muscle tension, even if you’re trying to breathe deeply. The ideal way to breathe during labour is to focus on your breathing. You don’t need to try to change your breath, just make sure you are breathing and stay focused on that. Pay attention to what part of your body you are breathing in to; your upper chest, your belly and the sides of your belly. Once you’re focusing on your breath it will naturally and automatically start to change and become more relaxed, full and deep. Whenever your attention goes to something else, bring your focus back to your breathing.

Essentially what you’re trying to do it to empty your lungs every time you breathe. When your lungs are empty you can allow the breath to come back to you in a relaxed way. Trying to force the breath in will create tension. Letting all the air out, and then letting your body bring the air back into your lungs will bring you a deeper relaxation.

Putting your attention to your breath throughout labour will help you through the contractions and help you to rest in between. You can also practise this breathing through the second stage of labour, as your baby is coming down and out, inbetween pushing. The old fashioned teachings of panting to try and stop yourself from pushing is now out-dated. Practise panting now and see how you feel. You’re likely to become very light-headed and feel disorientated; not something you want if you’d like to get the most out of your Joyful Birth. By breathing in a relaxed, deep and focused way, as described above, you’ll reduce your experience of discomfort and increase your feelings of empowerment and control.

Practise focusing on your breathing throughout your pregnancy; both you and your baby will benefit. You’ll find that you will be more relaxed and calm and once you go into labour you’ll be well practised at breathing correctly.

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