There are three kinds of breathing exercises that you will want to practice during the last weeks of pregnancy and use during the first stage of labor. These are variations on the classic Lamaze-prepared childbirth breathing.
- The deep cleansing breath. This is a simple breath. Sit with your spine comfortably straight. Put your hands on your abdomen. Slowly inhale as you watch your belly rise. Slowly exhale. Let out a sound as you exhale. Use this deep cleansing breath at the beginning of each contraction to help focus you and then begin the chu-chu or moan-pant.
- The chu-chu breath. This breath begins to sound like a steam engine chugging along. Inhale and exhale slowly, then quicker and quicker. Breathe at a pace that parallels your contraction. Use this breath with early contractions. Some women prefer to go directly to the moan-pant.
- The moan-pant. Begin using this breathing technique when you’re afraid you can’t stay on top of the contractions—when the big waves come and you just need to stay in the present moment—and use through the delivery, if you like. The moan-pant consists of three or four rhythmic pants followed by one blow, which can be a real release. As labor progresses and you get more focused, you can turn the pants into moans, and even into sounds that feel like singing.