safe motherhood

Your pregnancy - 29-40 weeks

Breathing exercises

Good breathing is vital in pregnancy to maximise your oxygen intake. It's also a valuable tool for relaxing and calming you and the baby.

Choose a quiet, well-ventilated place for these exercises. It's best not to have eaten recently.

You can practise your breathing in any position, but try and keep your back straight with your chin resting down towards your chest. You can do these exercises:

• Sitting on a chair;
• Leaning against a working surface in the kitchen;
• Standing or sitting with your back supported against a wall;
• Squatting.

First exhale slowly through your mouth, concentrating on making your lower stomach move inwards towards your back. Pause for a few moments before you breathe in through your nose. Imagine your body is filling with air from the bottom up.

It may help you to place one hand on your back and one on your lower stomach. As you exhale, breathe away from the hand on your front and towards the hand on your back. When you inhale, breathe in towards the hand on your front and away from the hand on your back.

It is also worth practising breathing exercises for labour. This one is good for first stage labour:

• Close your eyes.
• Relax your face.
• Relax your shoulders.
• Take in a slow, deep breath through your nose.
• Breathe out slowly through your mouth.
• Try to count to seven as you breathe out.

Continue this pattern for one minute or for the whole duration of your contraction when in labour.

Breathing for transition

Breathe in (not deeply) through your nose, then out (slowly) saying: "Ha, ha hoo."

A position that will help you not to push during this stage is lying on your side with both knees flexed up.