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Lamaze Breathing Techniques to Use During Labor

By Rachel Nall ; Updated June 13, 2017

Lamaze breathing is a technique used to help you relax during labor. If you are a first-time mother, it’s likely that the unknown pain related to labor can cause trepidation concerning the labor process. Lamaze breathing is a coping mechanism that allows you to decrease the perception of pain associated with giving birth, according to Kids Health.

Understand the Technique

Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, a French obstetrician, pioneered the Lamaze breathing technique in the late 1950s, according to Baby Center. Although the method was initially pioneered as just breathing techniques to reduce labor pains, the Lamaze technique has expanded to include educational and support components. Today, the Lamaze technique is one of the most popular in the United States, according to Kids Health.

The mission of Lamaze International is “to promote, support and protect natural, safe and healthy birth through education and advocacy through the dedicated efforts of professional childbirth educators, providers and parents,” according to Lamaze International. The Lamaze approach emphasizes women’s rights in making choices that are best for them and the wishes they have regarding the manner in which they give birth.

Learn Through Instruction

You and a partner learn Lamaze breathing techniques via instructional courses, according to Baby Center. The courses are typically 12 hours total and are kept small—usually no more than 12 couples for each class. Topics discussed include focused breathing, relaxation techniques, communication with a health-care team and education about options for pain management. Post-birth also is discussed—breastfeeding and interacting with your baby also are taught.

Breathing Techniques

Lamaze breathing techniques utilize several breathing patterns in order to encourage relaxation, according to Pregnancy-Period. Examples of breathing patterns include inhaling for five seconds, then breathing out for five seconds. Another option is the two short breaths, then one deep breath exercise that sounds like “hee hee hooooo.” The last breath should be released through the mouth. These represent some of the Lamaze breathing exercises used during childbirth.

When utilized properly, Lamaze breathing techniques are designed to keep you focused on breathing—not on pain experienced during childbirth, according to Modern Stork. Lamaze also is designed to help to conserve your energy while giving birth—this helps to reduce your level of exhaustion following birth. Also, you work with a partner for your Lamaze session, allowing your partner to be incorporated into the birth experience.

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