ChildbirthHypnobirthing Breathing Techniques (All you need to know!)

Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques (All you need to know!)

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One of the key to the success of hypnobirthing when giving birth is mastering the correct breathing techniques. Proper breathing, when wanting to achieve a natural delivery, 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!

If you are also looking into hypnobirthing and wondering how the breathing techniques work and how you can practice them, then you have come to the right place!


hypnobirthing breathing techniques

The Benefits of the Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques during Labor

Like I mentioned above, in general, proper breathing during labor allows your body to relax and send more oxygen down your uterus. This is instrumental when wanting to achieve a natural birth, as your body will struggle to deliver your baby if it’s full of tension otherwise.

When your body is more relaxed and able to follow its natural birthing instinct, then childbirth becomes way faster and less painful.

Hypnobirthing breathing techniques in particular, will benefit your body and your birth experience in different ways and depending on the stage of labor you are at. During the first stage, for example, they’ll mainly help you to relax and conserve energy for the later stages. They’ll also help increase cervix dilation, which will reduce laboring time.

During the last stage of labor, they’ll help you work with your body, instead of against it, as you start pushing your baby out. This will significantly reduce your chances of tearing or having an episiotomy.

The 3 Different Breathing Techniques

There are three different types of breathing used in hypnobirthing:

  • Calm Breathing / Relaxation Breathing
  • Surge Breathing / Up Breathing
  • Birth Breathing / Down Breathing / J Breathing

I am going to go through the three different methods below and you can use these instructions to practice your breathing in preparation for labor. However, if you are really serious about hypnobirthing, I strongly recommend that you enroll in a hypnobirthing course, as hypnobirthing is so much more than just learning some breathing techniques!

Related: Top 5 Online Hypnobirthing Classes

1. Calm or Relaxation Breathing

This type of breathing, as the name implies, allows you to enter a calm and relaxed state of mind. 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.
  • Pause.
  • 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 🙂

hypnobirthing breathing techniques

2. Surge or Up Breathing

This breathing technique, called either “surge” or “up breathing”, 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

The last of the hypnobirthing breathing stages is often referred to as “birth breathing”, “down breathing” or “j breathing”. It 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, so never let anyone tell you when it’s time. Your body knows already. This is actually one of my best tips I give to women who wish to have a natural birth without an epidural!

I remember when I was in labor, 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 poop. And when you get to the toilet you don’t really need to ‘force’ push. The poop just comes out (okay, sorry if this just got a bit gross!).

This is definitely the most important breathing that you should practice, and here’s how to do it:

  • Sit somewhere comfortable.
  • 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 for a vaginal delivery. 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!). And one suggestion when practicing it to start practicing with different birthing positions and understand what’s comfortable for you. That said, I can’t guarantee that it will still be comfortable during birth! I practiced different birthing positions for example, but ended up giving birth standing up, leaning on the hospital bed.

Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques Video

When to Practice Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques

If you are wondering when to start practicing these hypnobirthing breathing exercises, the answer is: now! The sooner the better really, same as with all the other hypnobirthing exercises.

In fact, mastering all the hypnobirthing techniques is a must if you want to have a successful hypnobirthing birth experience. The more you practice, the more your body becomes familiar with what it needs to do during labor and delivery, the more it will all come easy and naturally when the day comes.

One tip is to also to do these breathing exercises while listening to some hypnobirthing music that will help you relax even more. If you don’t have any audio tracks available already, make sure to check out these hypnobirthing apps for your phone, or these contraction timer apps – these help you record surges or contractions when labor starts, but some of them also have hypnobirthing music incorporated in them.

Other Key Hypnobirthing Component Techniques

As I mentioned above, 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.

If you want to find out more about hypnobirthing in general, and all the different techniques, make sure to read this article, or sign up for my free introductory course to hypnobirthing (sign up form below)!

Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques: Final Thoughts

That’s it mama, all you need to know about all the three different hypnobirthing techniques: what they are, what the benefits are, how and when to practice them.

I must say, of all the hypnobirthing techniques, breathing techniques are the ones that I still keep using in my everyday life. They help me relax in time of stress and calm down when I feel angry or overwhelmed. So, even if you don’t end up going the whole hypnobirthing way, I am confident these breathing exercises will still help you somewhere down the line.

For other articles related to hypnobirthing, check out these related posts:

For more tips and information on having a natural birth and how to prepare for postpartum:

For tips on how to survive pregnancy:

Are you pregnant and looking into hypnobirthing breathing techniques, and have more questions that haven’t been answered before? Or have you already given birth and used these techniques, and have more tips to share? Then please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

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hypnobirthing breathing techniques

Written by

Monica Greco
Monica Greco
Monica is the founder of Conquering Motherhood and a proud mom of two beautiful kids. As she says, giving birth to my second daughter was one of the most wonderful and empowering events of my life. That’s what’s inspired me to start this journey and share my story with you. Also, being a mother of a baby and a toddler, I know mom’s life is not always easy. Finding comfort in knowing you are not alone has always helped me. So, I’d like to pay it forward and share with other moms what I have learnt along the way providing tips, suggestions and recommendations on how to tackle motherhood.


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