safe motherhood



You are probably aware that breathing can be used to help with the pain of contractions. Some women take long, slow breaths to carry them through the pain; others 'lift themselves' over the contractions, by taking small, shallow breaths when the contraction is at its peak.

On the whole, it's best to breathe steadily through your contractions. Focus in particular on the out-breath. Say to yourself `Re' as you breathe in through your nose, and `lax' as you blow out gently through your mouth.

Re...................... lax
through your nose........through your mouth

When your contractions speed up, try not to let your thoughts wander – just keep them focused on breathing in through your nose and blowing out gently through your mouth. Even the longest contraction will only last 90 seconds. Your breathing can help you cope with each contraction one at a time. In between contractions, simply rest.


It's important to keep your breathing even and to avoid becoming panicky. Panicky breathing can lead to hyperventilation which makes you feel dizzy,sick and tingly.


It can be helpful to picture what is happening in your mind's eye. Try to picture the baby moving down and your cervix helping it on its way - opening like the petals of a flower. If this isn't helpful, you could try viewing the pain as a spot of colour and imagine your breathing wiping away the colour with another colour. You may be able to make yourself more comfortable by imagining yourself in a favourite place. Even thinking about pleasant things can make the body relax and this will help maintain your production of endorphins.

Both breathing and visualisation will help you relax. Being relaxed will help conserve your energy and ensure a good supply of oxygen to your baby (- who is also going through this too, don't forget!).