Breathing Exercises for Pregnant Women

Read about the different breathing exercises pregnant women can do to help them stay healthy and relaxed.

Every mom to be, wants to find out everything they should know about their pregnancy, labor, and delivery before their beautiful child is born. Women have many choices when it comes to having a baby. They can go into a hospital and stay in the same room that they had their child in. They can give birth in water and can also hire a midwife and give birth at home. Years ago women spent at least 5 to 10 days in the hospital after having a child, however; times have changed and some choose to leave the maternity ward and go home immediately and some choose to pay for an extra day and bond with their child if they have more children at home to tend to. This extra day helps them to rest and recover before they face their tribes at home. Why are breathing exercises so important when giving birth? Breathing the correct way when a mother is in labor helps them to take some of the stress off and breath through the contractions until they are ready to deliver. Here are some important breathing exercises for women to practice.

Patterned Breathing

Patterned breathing is a form of breathing that focuses on the rate and the depth of breathing. Some moms like to breathe deeply and use their diaphragm to expand their abdomen with the air they need. Other moms choose light breathing techniques, inhaling just enough air to fill their chest area. The main goal is to find what works for you and help you to feel more calm and relaxed. You should be breathing at a rate that is comfortable for you and doesn’t cause you to feel light-headed or short-winded.

It’s important to take a class on labor and birth so you can recognize the different patterns of breathing. These patterns are used at different stages of labor and you will be taught to use your breathing on each contraction you have to help the birthing process along productively. Patterned breathing is also helpful for people who suffer from anxiety, pain, fear or other forms of discomfort.


There are many benefits to patterned breathing. If you injure yourself, a person’s breathing changes automatically in response to pain. If the mother is in hard labor, breathing helps her become more relaxed and soothe the pain. Breathing can also be very calming during labor while giving mom a sense of control. Breathing increases oxygen flow which in turn gives mom more endurance for both herself and the child. Breathing helps every contraction become more productive and by using these techniques on a daily basis, every day of your life, it’s very helpful with constant stress mode.

Tips on Practice

Whenever you are waiting in line, traffic, doing housework or just relaxing, take advantage of these opportunities to practice breathing exercises and include this in your daily routine. Birth educators have said that if you hold an ice cube in your hand and practice breathing exercises properly, this starts to stimulate labor.

When you start to have a contraction, remember to take a deep and relaxing breath. This helps give baby more oxygen, along with more oxygen to your muscles, uterus and includes honing in and focusing on breathing and labor.

The first Stage Starts with Slow Breathing

When you are in the early start of labor, begin to breathe slowly when your contractions become strong and you can’t walk or talk because it’s impossible. Breathe slowly for as long as possible and then switch to another pattern of breathing. Don’t switch to another pattern unless you are uncomfortable with the pattern you are using. If you can’t relax or are extremely anxious then choose another patterned breathing technique.

Light but Accelerated Breathing

Many women will find that they want to switch to light breathing when they are in labor. Contractions become very intense, especially if you are on pitocin which is a solution by IV that controls the intensity of your contractions. This can become extremely uncomfortable and women aren’t thinking about deep breathing at the moment. You decide the best technique to use for each contraction at this point. Try to breathe in and out using your mouth at one breath per second. Try to breathe shallowly, light and make sure you try and inhale quietly so you don’t feel like you are panicking. Make sure that when you exhale, it can be heard normally.

Variable Breathing

Variable breathing is similar to breathing lightly. Most women have seen this when they have taken a class and it sounds more like a pant, blows or hee hee whoo sound of breathing. This type of breathing is a combination of light and shallow breathing using a longer exhalation. Variable breathing is also used during the first stage if mom is becoming overwhelmed, panicky, or begins to feel extremely exhausted.

Make Sure You Breathe at the Right Time

Women are going to be confused during labor because each birth is different so there will be occasions when you will feel like pushing, but don’t because it’s not the right time. Wait until your doctor or nurse coach tells you to push. This is when women tend to hold their breath and this is not the right time for that either. Keep your chin raised and keep blowing or keep breathing through the contraction. Don’t hold your breath. Your body is already pushing naturally so don’t help it along unless you are told by a professional.

Tips for a Dry Mouth while in Labor

Women can be extremely exhausted if they have long labor and their mouth becomes dry and they are hungry but they can’t eat or drink during this time to try and touch the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth, just behind the teeth when you breathe. This helps to keep the air moist that you take in. You can also cover your nose and mouth lightly with your palm of your hand so you feel the moisture from your breath. Nurses will give you ice chips and let you take some sips of water between contractions. If you have the energy, you can brush your teeth and use mouthwash between contractions.

Breathing exercises help immensely during labor and delivery. It’s also important to stay active, eat healthily and get enough rest during your pregnancy. This will help your labor go much quicker and you won’t have to push very long if you keep in shape. Your body will also return back to pre-pregnancy weight faster if you nurse your child and watch what you gain while you are expecting.