Why are breathing techniques so great for labour?

If you’ve ever heard about hypnobirthing – or even if you haven’t you will have probably heard from someone that breathing techniques in labour can be a gamechanger!

I myself have had both a vaginal birth and a caesarean birth and I can honestly say that whilst both of my children’s births were completely different, the breathing techniques were an incredible tool.

A lot of people may see them as a nice to have but actually.. the techniques is very much based on science!

Even when teaching my classes, I often say that above all else.. its important to recognise practicing good breathing techniques.

So why is our breath so important during birth?

During birth, we produce a variety of different hormones that help support the birthing process – essentially, we want our body to be in the rest and digest system so that all of our blood in the body goes to our internal organs, our uterus (or womb) muscles which are contracting in order to let our babies out and also to our babies.

If the body undergoes a lot of stress or anxiety in labour, this can take us into fight or flight mode and its much harder for these hormones to be produced.

With calm breathing techniques, we are able to work with our bodies better in order for us to feel calm – not only can this support our labours, it can help us to think clearly should we need to make decisions about what is best during the birth (birth partners are great at advocating for you too!)

Not only is it important to feel calm during surges or contractions, its important to feel calm and safe during a c-section or any other type of birth for that matter!

With any type of birth, once our baby is born – oxytocin which helps to fuel the birth process then goes on to help support us with supporting our new born baby (please note you produce oxytocin in other ways too, for example, skin to skin with your baby!).

Is there more than one breathing technique in hypnobirthing?

During the second stage of labour (or commonly known as the pushing stage of labour) there is often a second breathing technique which birthers use in order to breathe their babies out.

Often referred to as down breathing this almost panting breathing can help us to slow down this stage in order to help prevent tearing or it is often used as a distraction tool as well (we only push during a contraction, however, the sensation of our baby being so low can often make us continue to want to push!).

Whether your looking to invest in a hypnobirthing course or another antenatal preparation class – its absolutely worth practicing breathing techniques throughout the duration of your pregnancy, not only will they help you during antenatal appointment or in preparation for your baby – they are a great way to prepare in a positive way for the birth of your baby!

What else can hypnobirthing techniques be used for?

A lot of people assume that hypnobirthing techniques can only be used for birth when in fact, a lot of the skills learnt can be very transferable. Here are a few ideas of how they can be used in other ways!

  • Positivity – Looking at the positives instead of the negatives not only in pregnancy but in every aspect of life can only have benefits, similar to mindfulness, hypnobirthing allows you to look at things constructively and in a mindful way
  • The B.R.A.I.N.S acronym – this is a brilliant tool in so many ways. When you are in a meeting, at another type of medical appointment or when you are needing to weigh things up before making a decision
  • Breathing – Breathing is such a vital part of so many different practices including hypnobirthing, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. Taking a long deep breath can really help you to feel calm and collected, especially when you are feeling anxious. Here are a few of the ways I’ve suggested my clients use it!
  • Any type of medical appointment such as the dentist
  • Just before going into a meeting or a job interview
  • Whilst stuck in a traffic jam
  • Anxiety around phobias such as flying or spiders
  • Dealing with toddler tantrums!

These are just a few, are there any other ways you use your hypnobirthing breathing?