This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For more information, please see my disclaimer here.
One of the key to the success of hypnobirthing when giving birth is mastering the correct breathing techniques. Proper breathing will allow your body to relax and send more oxygen down your uterus. This way it will be much quicker and easier to birth your baby.
I remember practicing the hypnobirthing breathing techniques at every given opportunity: in the car to work, in the evening on the couch, in bed before falling asleep (or in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep!), etc. All that practice paid off though, because I manages to achieve the most amazing, empowering, calm and pain-free birth!
Also make sure to have a look at these free hypnobirthing apps with hypnobirthing audio tracks to help you practice these breathing techniques.
Related: Best Free Hypnobirthing Apps
The 3 different breathing techniques
There are three different breathing techniques used in hypnobirthing:
- Calm Breathing / Relaxation Breathing
- Surge Breathing / Up Breathing
- Birth Breathing / Down Breathing / J Breathing
In this post, I am going to go through the different methods and you can use these instructions to practice your breathing. However, I strongly recommend that you enroll in a hypnobirthing course. This is a must if you really wanting to achieve a calm, gentle and pain-free birth.
Related: Top 5 Online Hypnobirthing Classes
1. Calm or Relaxation Breathing
This type of breathing allows you to enter a calm and relaxed state of mind, as the name implies. It can be applied during pregnancy, labor, as well as many other situations in life when you are feeling tensed or stressed. If you have done Yoga or meditation before, you are probably already a master at it!
Calm breathing is ideal to resume relaxation in between surges (contractions in hypnobirthing) during the early stages of labor. It allows a continual supply of oxygen to the uterus/baby, which is essential for the muscles in the uterus to work. It also helps to conserve energy for the later stages of labor and for your and your baby’s heart rate to slow down.
To practice Calm Breathing, do the following:
- Sit on a comfortable chair, close your eyes and relax your shoulders.
- Slightly close your mouth and rest your tongue behind your front upper teeth to help relax the jaw.
- Place your hands on your belly just below your ribs.
- Scan your body for any tension left and try release it.
- Take a breath in through your nose to the count of four and feel your belly rise while you do that.
- Slowly exhale through your nose to the count of 8. Release all tension and let go.
Now, don’t stress if you can’t count down to 8 when you breathe out! As your belly grows, your lung capacity decreases, so it can become quite difficult. I remember when practicing I could hardly count down to 6. What I actually suggest doing once you get the hang of it is: forget counting! Just relax and exhale slowly for as long as you can 🙂
2. Surge or Up Breathing
This breathing technique is used during the surges to help you work with your body, until your baby is crowning. It is quite similar to the Relaxation / Calm Breathing, with the only difference being that you also need to inhale for as long as you can. Imagine that you are filling up a balloon in your belly as you slowly inhale and then that you are deflating it as you slowly exhale.
3. Birth, Down or J Breathing
This third breathing technique is used during the last stage of labor when your baby is ready to come out 🙂 You will feel a strong urge to push when this happens. This is due to the natural expulsive reflex of your body to move your baby down to crowning and birth.
According to hypnobirthing, even though you feel an urge to push, it is important not to push. That said, I agree with what my hypnobirthing practitioner taught me – when your body goes through the expulsive reflex, it does feel like you need to push. And you should work with your body in doing it. What’s most important is that you do not force push in between surges!
I remember my midwife telling me: “when I tell you to push, you need to give it a strong push!”. And in my head I was like: “Hell no, I am going to push when my body tells me to push!”. It’s funny… my midwife knew a bit about hypnobirthing and was ok with my birthing plan. But the concept of having to assist a woman in telling her when she needs to push a baby out is so eradicated within our society that it’s hard to beat.
The sensation you will feel is almost like when you have a strong urge to go to the toilet to poo. And when you get to the toilet you don’t really need to ‘force’ push. The poo just comes out 🙂 (ok, sorry if this just got a bit gross!)
This is definitely the most important breathing that you should practice.
- Sit somewhere comfortable. Or… start practicing with different birthing positions and understand what’s comfortable for you. Though I can’t guarantee that it will still be comfortable during birth! I practiced different birthing positions but ended up giving birth standing up, leaning on the hospital bed. 🙂
- Softly close your mouth
- Breath in through the nose – this is a quicker breath in compared to the Calm and Surge Breathings
- Breath out through the nose by directing the energy of the breath to the back of your throat, then through your back as it gently moves your baby down and out through the vagina. The path of your breath down your back will resemble the letter “J” – that’s why it’s also called J Breathing.
The perfect place to practice this breathing is on the toilet as you are passing stools (I know, gross again … sorry!)
Other Key Hypnobirthing Component Techniques
As I mentioned before, correct breathing techniques are only one of the key techniques that need to be mastered in hypnobirthing. Other key components are:
- Education: knowledge is power! Understanding what happens to your body and being aware of all the changes that you go through during labor will assist you in remaining calm and confident throughout labor and delivery.
- Relaxation: your ability to quickly go into a deep state of relaxation is one of the most effective ways of dealing with tension, stress or discomfort before or during birth.
- Deepening: these techniques are meant to deepen your relaxation to a point where your body becomes limp and you are almost in an amnesiac state.
- Visualization: visualization exercises fill your brain with positive pictures related to your birth. The assimilation of these visions creates acceptance, belief and confidence in achieving and easier and gentler birth like you imagined it.
- Affirmations: birth affirmations are positive statements about you, your baby and your birthing process. Through repetition, they can turn any negative thought into a positive one. And as our mind becomes confident in what our body can do, the body follows by relaxing and birthing with ease.
Did you find it helpful? Pin It!