As your contractions get stronger, you may find it easier to breathe lightly. This means moving your breathing up to chest level. This is the kind of breathing you do when you talk.
You may also want to focus on your breathing rather than on the discomfort of the contraction. It is important to keep this kind of breathing even and easy.
To find the balance of rate and depth that is best for you:
For even more distraction, you might want to add a pattern of sound to your exhales. For example, try "Ha, Ha, Ha, Who" or "Come, Out, Ba-By."
In order for focused breathing to be useful in labor, you need to be able to do it for at least a minute. This is how long most contractions last in active labor.
At the end of the minute you should not feel breathless or dizzy. Practicing the two kinds of focused breathing while you are pregnant will make them easier to do in labor.
If you practice your breathing alone:
Do a series of three contractions with one minute of rest between each of them. If your breathing is comfortable at the end of this five-minute cycle, you have found the level and rate that is best for you. If your breathing is not comfortable, try breathing a little slower during the contractions or changing your pattern.
Practice will give you confidence in your ability to use breathing as a comfort tool. You may find in labor that you start doing a completely different type of breathing or pattern. If it works, do it!
If you practice your breathing with your partner or labor companion:
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
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