Search
Menu
Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

There are many comfort measures to help a woman during pregnancy

Breathing

Slow-Paced Breathing

  • At the beginning of the contraction, take a deep breath and relax.
  • Concentrate on a focal point.
  • Breathe slowly and rhythmically in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • When the contraction ends, take a deep breath.
  • Return to normal breathing between contractions.

Shallow Breathing

  • At the beginning of the contraction, take a deep breath and relax.
  • Concentrate on a focal point.
  • Take a shallow breath in and out through your mouth, making a "ha" sound as you breathe out.
    Your chest will move, but your abdomen will stay still as you do so.
  • When the contraction ends, take a deep breath.
  • Return to normal breathing between contractions.

Pant-Blow Breathing

  • At the beginning of the contraction, take a deep breath and relax.
  • Concentrate on a focal point.
  • Do shallow breathing, but insert a short blow with every fourth breath.
  • When the contraction ends, take a deep breath.
  • Return to normal breathing between contractions.
Comfort Measures

Many women find a warm bath is very comforting and relaxing during labour. Most birthing suites have a jacuzzi available for your use.
There are many comfort measures to help a woman during labour. It is important to be open minded and not rely on one single method or technique for coping with labour.

Many women find a warm bath is very comforting and relaxing during labour. Most birthing suites have a jacuzzi available for your use.

Taking a radio/iPod with you in to the hospital and playing music that soothes and relaxes can be helpful. It can also create a more personal atmosphere and give your something to concentrate on.

The use of numerous pillows can be helpful in finding a comfortable position. We recommend you bring extra pillows from home with colourful pillow cases.

Positions

The positions and activities that you choose during labour can make a big difference in how you cope with labour and how your labour progresses.

A nurse will be readily available to help you with different positions, give suggestions and answer any of your questions. Lying flat on your back is one of the most unfavourable positions for labour. The weight of the baby and the uterus will fall directly on your back. This position puts the weight of the baby on the major blood vessels that deliver blood to the placenta, so this is not a good position for the baby. If you are feeling contractions in your back, this will add to your discomfort.

Upright positions are not only more comfortable, but may help stimulate contractions. When you are standing or sitting, the head of your baby is brought into contact with the cervix. This stimulates the cervix and will help it to open. Studies have shown that walking and moving during labour helps many women feel more comfortable and can speed up your labour.

The positions and activites that you choose during labour can make a big difference in how you cope with labour and how your labour progresses.

If you are walking or standing, it is helpful to have someone or something to lean on or to hang on to. If you are sitting, be sure to have all your limbs and joints, including your neck, well supported.

Some women find that being on their hands and knees or leaning forward is very comfortable. This takes a lot of pressure off the back and is very useful if your back hurts during contractions.
 
It is important to do what feels most comfortable to you. Most women reach a point in their labour when they want to lie down. Lying on your side and supporting your arms and legs with extra pillows can be a very comfortable position.

Touch and Massage

Not all labouring women will want to be touched or massaged. However, sometimes when a labouring woman says, "Don't touch me," she means "Don't touch me like that." Usually during labour a woman will prefer to be touched firmly, rather than lightly. Some women do not like to have their bodies touched during labour, but may like to have their hands, feet or even arms firmly but gently massaged. The best advice is to experiment with different kinds of touch and different kinds of massage to see what feels best.

Some women find they can not help tensing up as they approach full dilation. They may arch their backs or raise their shoulders and feel quite panicky. A good massage for this situation is a firm massage of their inner thighs. During the contractions, stroke downwards on the inside of the thighs, drawing your hands lightly up the outside of the thighs. Firmly massaging and putting pressure on the lower back is also helpful at this time.
 
The best advice is to experiment with different kinds of touch and different kinds of massage to see what feels best during labour.