Birth breathing techniques for labour

breathing techniques for labour

Today I want to share some breathing techniques for labour that you can use to help manage pain.

We’ve all seen those movies and tv shows where labouring women are panting and puffing, wide-eyed and red-faced as they scream and push.

Those women are basically showing us everything you don’t want to do during labour. 

Short shallow breathing.


Focused on fear.

Clenching their muscles to push.

Wasting their precious energy screaming.

So if that’s what not to do. Let’s talk about some birth breathing techniques for labour and what you can actually do to help labour progress more smoothly and ease pain.

I usually teach women two different types of breathing that they can use to manage the pain of birth; deep belly breathing and bee breath. 

Read on to learn how to do both, or watch the video below where I show both and we practice using these types of breath to manage sensations in the body caused by uncomfortable positions. 

Two types of breathing techniques for labour

Deep belly breathing.

Benefits – deep belly breaths and long exhales help to tell our nervous system is okay to relax. This type of breathing also helps to give the body, specifically the uterus the oxygen it needs to contract strongly.

  1. Find a comfortable seat or lie down.
  2. Bring your hands to your belly and breathe in deeply.
  3. Imagine your belly filling up with air and the skin of the belly tightening with the breath.
  4. Exhale as slowly as you can allowing the belly to soften as the breath leaves your body. 
  5. Repeat

Bee Breath

Benefits – calms and relaxes your body through slow exhalation. The sound created by this type of breath helps to focus our mind and slow down the exhale even further. The vibrations of the lips and mouth help to calm the body and keep the mind focused rather than on the uncomfortable sensations of contractions.

Note. (We practice in yoga with the hands on the ears. You’re unlikely to do this during labour but it is a good way to get started. Watch the video below for poses to practice this breath with to simulate contractions.

  1. Bring your pointer fingers to your ears and gently cover the opening of them.
  2. Take a deep inhale into the lungs.
  3. As you exhale, keep the lips closed and hum for the entire duration of the breath (you’ll probably find the breath lasts longer than usual.
  4. Repeat.

If you enjoyed this article on the types of breathing you can use during labour, you’ll like my Yoga Wisdom for birth course. Learn more about it here.

Or you can practice these birth skills in my three part yoga series for birth. Check it out here.

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