You may not have realised this, but advantages of effective birth breathing are frequently overlooked. Today I will help you to learn the correct birth breathing, which will be a vital part of your birthing preparation. Below you will find instructions for 3 types of hypnobirth breathing.
I was 8cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital as I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible to avoid intervention. I had the courage to do so because of the birth breathing techniques and sense of confidence and empowerment I gained through learning and practising hypnobirthing. The midwife commented afterwards that I was so relaxed, calm and composed. ~ Elena
In reality, the vital element of breathing is obvious when you realise that you can live without food or water for quite some time, yet you can’t live much longer than a few minutes without taking a breath.
I was so grateful for the breathing as it got me through the car trip, every bump and turn was a challenge. But the breathing I’d been practicing for the last few months gave me a strong focus and provided a feeling of safety and comfort. I felt in control. ~ Tes
Focused and intentional birth breathing helps you create a safe space to calmly participate in the wonderful experience of childbirth. As the birth unfolds, your breath can reconnect you with the natural ebb and flow of your body and surrender to the natural process.
3 types of breathing for each stage of birth
- Between contractions – breathe IN through the nose (at a medium pace) to a count of four (4) and breathe OUT through the nose to a count of eight (8) This breath is relaxed, gentle and flowing freely. The out breath being longer allows the body to disperse carbon dioxide and stale air out of the lungs. This resting phase of breathing between contractions, helps you to remain deeply relaxed and to replenish your energy in preparation for the next contraction or “surge” as it is known in HypnoBirthing.
- During contractions – the breath is intended to fill your abdomen and lungs, just like filling a balloon. But the pace of the counting is very fast. So on the IN breath you count quickly to twenty (20) filling up as much as you can into your abdomen then into the lungs. On the OUT breath you also count to twenty (20) counting at the same quick pace as you deflate the abdomen like a balloon. This style of deep breathing is effective in releasing muscular tension and in reducing discomfort of a contraction. You will (most of the time) need to do two or three breaths like this over each contraction until it subsides. Each contraction lasts just over a minute at the peak of your labour, the contractions are a lot shorter at the beginning. This balloon breathing (20 IN and 20 OUT breathing) helps to eliminate toxin build-up. During resting phase between contractions, go back to breathing as already described above for between contractions. Breathing empowers a woman to fully participate in her birth experience, feeling calm and in control.
- During crowning and pushing phase, as the baby descends you will get the urge to push, during these contractions the breathing changes. On the IN breath (without counting), take a good strong breath in to fill up your lungs as much as you can and as quickly as you can. Then on the OUT breath, slow the breath right down and strongly send the breath downward into your pelvis. During pushing phase you will need to do three or four of these breaths until the pressure of the contraction subsides. This type of breathing will help you to breathe your baby into the world, free of stress and strain. The old method of holding your breath and purple pushing is obsolete, replaced with a focused, controlled breath that eliminates muscular and physical tension or trauma. During resting phase between contractions, go back to breathing as already described above for between contractions. Breathing your baby into the world lovingly and peacefully provides a wonderful welcome for your baby. Most mums experience a sense of relief after childbirth and in many cases this may be accompanied by elation and peacefulness.
The 3 birth breathing tips are also available on A Birth Labour of Love CD with a guided self-hypnosis birth rehearsal, helping you to visualise yourself birthing your baby into the world with a calm expectation.
When I went into spontaneous labour the ‘in between’ breaths helped me cope through the early stages. As my contractions got stronger and closer together I used the balloon breaths, supported by my husband reminding me to breathe and counting down the contraction times. I was able to stay home until I was 5cm dilated. We feel very blessed to have had a completely drug free birthing experience thanks to Hypnobirthing, I strongly recommend it to anyone willing to make the effort. ~ Norah
I was induced. So I live to tell the tale that even with the intensity of oxytocin I still did not need any pain relief. We kept playing the birth cd’s and my husband kept reading meditations, he was so in tune with me it gave me immense strength. I heard new things each time I listened to the birth cd’s. With each surge I went deeper into self-hypnosis and told myself I can do this. I was unaware of anything else and was totally consumed with my breathing. With each surge I kept very still and visualised breathing in for 20 and out for 20 as a line on a graph.
Once I got to the bearing down stage (pushing) I was on the home run, pushing was a relief and was the first time that making noise seemed to help. After an hour or so of pushing, and 15 hrs of labor (no tearing and no stitches) my little darling was born. It feels so amazing to have delivered my baby naturally and with a sense of calm and joy.
Awesome 9 benefits you can expect from focused breathing?
- Overcoming tension, resistance and discomfort during birth
- Surrendering rather than resisting contractions
- Breathing down rather than pushing
- A steady release of opiates/endorphins, the natural pain relieving hormones and chemistry
- Enriched experience of being in the present moment
- More peace and calm, less stress as you move through each stage of birth
- Empowerment to create the kind of birth you want
- Enhanced physical well-being and quick recovery
- Loving participation in bringing your baby into the world
Why is correct breathing essential in childbirth?
The breath is a vital part of our existence and a major source of energy. Eastern cultures have always understood the power of the breath and call it ‘chi’ or ‘prana’. The natural state of breathing is relaxed, rhythmic, flowing, and open.
Poor breathing habits are characterised by short, shallow irregular breaths. Shallow breathing creates internal stress, confusion, tension and lack of energy.
Learning how to breathe correctly during pregnancy and birth increases the flow of vibrant energy and ‘feel good’ hormones in your body. The importance of the breath is very rarely contemplated in the Western world.
Unless we are made aware of our breathing, we go through life breathing unconsciously not even fully filling our lungs.
I had a very quick and uncomplicated labour and was able to use the breathing techniques we learned in the hypnobirthing classes to get me through the toughest contractions. ~ Lauren
Birth breathing takes practice, because many of us have never done it this way before. It’s important to spend time being aware of your breathing and realising just how much air you are taking in, as well as the importance of fully breathing out.
Research suggests that focused breathing promotes the release of hormones necessary for a far more comfortable childbirth.
When a mother is properly prepared mentally, physically and spiritually she can give birth to her baby in a way that is calm, nurturing and empowering.
Breathing is just one aspect of hypnobirthing birth preparation; learn more about what hypnobirthing women report experiencing during the birth of their baby.
My first child’s birth, which was 10 years ago, was so intense and painful. But this time, I learnt more about birth and it was beautiful.
This time I was ready. When contraction came, I started my deep breathing. While I concentrated on my breathing, I had a vision like this:
My baby is diving deeper and deeper…
I am following my baby deeper and deeper…
And the light from up above surrounds us and protect us…
And I didn’t feel any pain while I was visualising this image. My baby came down slowly but steadily, and she was born in the water. My baby was so relaxed, she even didn’t look like she realised that she was born.
It was just a miracle. I was so glad to have this beautiful birth instead of a fearful birth I would’ve had if I hadn’t learned your hypnobirth education course. ~ Akiko
Another interesting article, well worth reading is Breathe away pain – Psychology today, it highlights the advantages of combining mindfulness and breathing to help diminish pain.
If you have any further questions about hypnosis for childbirth, please feel free to contact Katherine Ferris, a Hypnotherapist and Hypnobirthing Practitioner in Sydney CBD and Annandale.