We’ve all seen videos or TV shows with a pregnant mom doing the Lamaze breathing that goes something like this, “hee, hee, hee, ho, ho, ho, ha, ha, ha.” Well, besides sounding a little ridiculous, who in the middle of labor contractions can remember a pattern of breathing that sounds like a cross between a hyena and Santa Claus? Besides, it’s easy to hyperventilate while doing this pattern of breathing in labor. That is going to make you dizzy and rob oxygen from your baby.

Yeah…not the best idea!

Why complicate something that can be so simple, and so effective? Breathing the right way makes it EASY to stimulate the relaxation response during labor contractions. The best way to breathe during labor contractions belongs in the category of K.I.S.S.-“keep it simple sweetheart”.

Here’s how to breathe during labor contractions:

Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Yes. It’s that simple!

Now we can take it a little deeper if you’re ready to feel true relaxation during your labor contractions. There are a couple of ways to enhance these inhales and exhales if you want to go a little deeper:

  1. Silently, count in your head 4,3,2,1 for each inhale and count from 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 as you exhale. Exhaling longer than your inhale stimulates your body to produce endorphins. The endorphins your body makes are stronger than morphine! Keep the breath deep and slow.
  2. Practice deep abdominal breaths. Put one hand on your belly button and one hand on your chest. As you inhale you should feel your belly rise into your hand. Imagine a balloon filling with air. You should not feel your chest move until the end of your inhale. As you exhale, gently pull the belly in and up to help push the air out using your diaphragm. Imagine a balloon releasing air and growing smaller.
  3. Make some noise! Take a deep abdominal breath in and as you exhale make a low, deep moaning sound. Do not let the sound become at all high pitched. It must be deep and low to get the relaxation benefits. The vibrations you make in your vocal cords will stimulate your pituitary gland to produce endorphins and create the relaxation response in your body. You are going to feel things begin to really move! It will help you cope with the intensity of labor contractions. You can totally handle them by making sound with each exhale.
  4. A great big sigh. The easiest way to start, if the above instructions have you confused, is to take a deep, deep breath in through your nose and then open your mouth and sigh it out. It’s that simple. Do that a few times and you’ll feel a big difference in your body and mental state.

Take a couple minutes every day during your pregnancy to sit and focus on your breath.

Really, it only takes a couple of minutes. Sit or stand. Put the timer on for two minutes. Close your eyes and breathe. When labor contractions begin you will be a pro! You’ll be relaxed, calm, and prepared for labor and birth, and ready for all the stresses of any day in the life of a new mom.