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Learning special breathing techniques for labour can really help get you through each contraction, stop you pushing at the wrong time and go some way to ensuring a smoother labour. Also there are methods that help relieve pain during labour for pregnant women; breathing.

Breathing properly during labour increases the amount of oxygen for both mom and baby. When being stressed or panic, the breath becomes fast and shallow, which can make you lose control and eventually exhausted as well as preventing oxygen from going into your lungs.

Here are some proper breathing techniques:
1. Deep – slow breathing
Slow breathing occurs during the first stage of labour when the cervix dilates less than 3 cm. When the uterine contraction happens, start with a deep breath then breathe slowly, deeply (inhale through nose, exhale through mouth), breathe slowly, steadily and end with a deep breath when the contraction is over. When inhaling, you should see the abdomen rising, and coming back in when you exhale.

Try to keep to a regular rhythm and keep the 'out' breath as long, if not slightly longer, than your 'in' breath. Do 4-6 breathing rhythms for a uterine contraction of about 25-30 seconds.

2. Rapid – shallow chest breathing
This kind of breathing is used in the labour stage when cervix dilates from 4-7cm, contractions are more intense, longer and closer together.

When you have a uterine contraction, start with a deep breath, then with a shallow chest breath. When the contraction intensity gets higher, breathe faster. At the contraction's peak it can help to pant like a dog, in and out through your mouth, interspersed with a deeper breath every few breaths. Slow down your breath when the contraction reduces, then take a deep breath when the contraction is over.

Take 20-25 breath/ 1 minute. Breathe slower at the beginning and the end of the contraction, and breathe faster at the middle of the contraction.

3. Breathing as if you’re blowing a candle
This kind of breathing is used in the transition phase, when the cervix dilates 7-9cm, the uterine contraction is intense, the time between 2 contractions is short, pregnant women normally want to push as the foetus gets down and presses against your rectum. This kind of breathing helps to reduce the pressure from the uterus, avoiding pushing early.

When the contraction begins, take a deep breath, then take 4 rapid and shallow breaths then blow out the one time through your mouth, continue to take 4 rapid and shallow breaths then blow the air out. Do so until the contraction is over and end with a deep breath.

Try a 'pant, pant, blow' routine. When you blow out, imagine you're trying to almost, but not quite, blow a candle out.

4. Push
Unless the nurse tells you otherwise, try not to hold your breath while you're pushing. It's easy to burst a facial blood vessel, in very extreme cases, you can end up with a pneumothorax (a hole in your lung).

The kind of breathing you need at this point is used in the 2nd phase of labour, when the cervix is completely open and the mother wants to push. The pushing posture is the “C-curve” position.

When you have a contraction, take 2 deep breaths, then take a long breath and start to push. When pushing, press your chin against the chest, keep your eyes on the belly button, continue to push and take another breath when you’re out of air, hold your breath and continue to push, until the uterine contraction is over.

Also, try to be led by what your body's telling you to do. Unless you have an epidural, then your body will actually push on its own, regardless of how you're breathing.

When taking slow and deep breath, pregnant women can perform any posture such as lying, standing or sitting. The more pregnant women relax themselves, the more effective breathing is.

As your baby crowns you may be told to stop pushing and just pant - this will help slow things down a bit and can help to prevent you tearing.

NOTE: Try practicing these breathing techniques, to be effective practice makes perfect.


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