Breathing techniques for labor and delivery

As your due date draws nearer, learn and practice controlled breathing techniques for pain management during childbirth. Concentrating on your breathing will help distract you from pain, relax both your muscles and your mind, and keep your oxygen supply up.

If you haven't learned specific breathing techniques (such as Lamaze) in a childbirth education class, practice the following breathing patterns before you go into labor:

  • In early labor, use abdominal breathing, at about 6 to 9 breaths per minute. As you inhale, expand your abdomen outward; as you exhale, relax your abdomen downward.
  • As your contractions become more intense, exhale in a "pant-pant-blow" pattern, about 6 cycles per minute.

Last Updated: December 4, 2009

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