No More "Hee Hee Hoo," Just Take A Deep Breath Already
Here's the thing about Lamaze — it's no longer a technique that's all about "hee-hee-hoo-ing" labor away. I like to call this "old school breathing." It's the kind you typically see on television or in the movies — a mom takes a breath in and then blows quickly and forcefully through her mouth. She's also usually gritting her teeth or screaming at her husband, too.
Hey, it happens.
But birth isn't always like that. It can be — and many argue, should be — a relaxed process.
As a Lamaze educator who also gave birth twice, I believe patterned breathing techniques can be hugely beneficial during labor and delivery. However, I also believe breathing techniques don't work for every woman. Labor is highly unpredictable so, of course, how a woman copes and stays comfortable during the process is, too.
When I teach childbirth classes, I encourage moms-to-be to start with the most basic (yet for many women the most effective) way to breathe during labor. It starts with taking a slow, deep breath in through the nose, then exhaling slowly through the mouth. Try taking this cleansing breath at the start of a contraction, then continue slow, deep breathing as the contraction builds. When labor is active, combine this breathing technique with a comfort measure such as sitting on a birth ball, walking or massage. When the contraction is over, take another cleansing breath. Then you'll have a few minutes — or less, depending on how far along in labor you are — to rest before the next contraction begins.
If you want to try other breathing techniques for labor, great.
The "hee-hee-hoos" can actually work, particularly during transition. When contractions are super long, strong and close together, the kind you can no longer talk through, then slow, deep breathing may not work as well as it does in the earlier stages of labor. If this happens, try keeping the initial cleansing breath in through your nose, out through your mouth to center and get ready for the remaining contraction before trying the patterned technique.
As with anything else when it comes to childbirth, keep an open mind. You won't know what works best for you until you're actually in labor.
If you find yourself feeling worried or overwhelmed, remember to breathe.