Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques
Breathing is an important part of your Hypnobirthing Practice.
And down breathing is a biggie.
When your body moves into the second stage of labour there can often be a natural rush of adrenaline that joins your changing muscle function and your natural mammalian need to be alert and ready for the AMAZING moment that you meet your baby!
And down breathing helps.
Down breathing helps calm your nervous system, settle your mind and focus your body into the downward process of birth and your baby coming out!
But there are lots of breathing techniques for birth to choose from, so here I shall focus on Down breathing but you might like to do a bit more reading and learn about your other options as well.
If you are doing my hypnobirthing course I will guide you, or we can adapt your hypnobirthing techniques to suit your own specific needs. But if you are teaching yourself hypnobirthing I would suggest you do your research. Either way – it’s a case of deciding what works best for you!
What Hypnobirthing breathing techniques are there?
There are A LOT to choose from – so I have listed most of them here!
But the most useful thing to know is that most birth breathing techniques focus on the either the first stage of labour, or the second stage. So no matter how many breathing techniques there are? You really only ever need 2. And if you ask me? Some of the techniques for the first stage are SO GOOD you can use them right through the second stage as well!
My favourite hypnobirthing breathing techniques:
- Up Breathing
- Surge Breathing
- Ribbon Breathing
- Rectangular breathing
- 3-5 (or 5-8) breathing
- Rectangular Breathing
- Bubble breathing (Don’t ya just love the name!)
- Balloon Breathing
- Bumble Bee Breathing
- Down Breathing
Tip: The last 3 breathing techniques are for the second stage of labour!
In this article you will learn how to do down breathing AND I’ve given you a free hypnobirthing breathing script so you can practice your down breathing as well!
If you find this useful, and I’m sure you will! I suggest you read my Guide What do I need to Practice for Hypnobirthing? and then put your hypnobirthing practice schedule together with my helpful guide: How often to Practice Hypnobirthing!
When you buy a digital course from my website that’s not made by me, the person you buy from may give me a small thank you payment for sharing their details. You do not pay any extra for this, but it helps me on my mission to create free hypnobirthing content, so thank you! xxx
What is down breathing?
Down breathing is just nasal breathing while thinking, visualising or focusing on the downward movement of birth!
Down breathing is also one of the genius ways Hypnobirthing teaches you to hold it together during that moment when your baby’s head comes out of your body and enters the world! Down Breathing is a term first coined by Katherine Graves (The Home of Hypnobirthing!) in which she suggests combining down visualisations with traditional nasal breathing to help your second stage of labour have a calm and positively focused vibe!
So to say down breathing is helpful during the down stage of birth? .…it’s an understatement!
Down breathing and visualisations can help you reduce your stress levels and stay mindfully focused. And this can help you support spontaneous birth while keeping your body oxygenated at the same time!
Studies have even suggested that breathing techniques like this can contribute to considerably reduced perineal tear rates when compared against the valsalva manoeuveur.
How to do down breathing:
When you first learn how to do down breathing you’ll probably think it’s weird.
Breathing is an unconscious mechanism (thank goodness!) and although most of us do nasal breathing ALL THE TIME when you start to focus on it, and do it consciously, it feels clunky and unnatural!
So sit down, be comfortable and practice. Then repeat regularly until it feels more natural!
Down breathing practie is suggested from 36 weeks, before then practice on your first stage technique.
- Breath softly and gently in through your nose.
- Breath softly and gently out through your nose.
- Focus your attention down as you breath out. Focusing down towards your pelvis. Nice and slow. Nice and relaxed.
- You can draw your in breath quite quickly if you like or keep both breaths nice and slow. As a general rule of thumb, the out breath should be longer than the in breath – but it’s not ‘crucial’ and you should find it happens quite naturally anyway.
- Let your jaw and shoulders relax. Unclench your teeth. You may even find your mouth naturally opens slightly – which is fine – just keep breathing through your nose.
If you feel faint or wobbly STOP and speak to your midwife.
Easy as that!
Why do we call it down breathing?
Down breathing relates to the breathing techniques used during the”down stage of labour”. The down stage of labour is a non medical term used across many antenatal methods to describe the second stage of labour in which the cervix reaches full dilation (around 10cm give or take) and the muscles of the uterus starts spontaneously pushing baby down with strong, involuntary muscle movements.
Sometimes this stage is unhelpfully called the “pushing stage” which creates the misconception that birth requires active pushing (and someone even coaching) – but it doesn’t.
So when your birthing body is spontaneously pushing down?
You can help it by thinking down!
Down visualisations help calm and centre the mind. And help the mind support the body by thinking down as the muscles work down.
Where the mind goes the body follows!
Down breathing helps you to think down AND BREATH DOWN.
J-breathing is variation of down breathing and anytime I teach Hypnobirthing, J-breathing comes up! J-breathing can often feel like the most logical step if you’ve been practicing Up-Breathing or Surge Breathing for the first stage of labour. Why?
The breathing is almost the same!
With J-Breathing (just like down breathing), when you feel your body naturally bearing down with your surges (contractions) you can visualise your body – or specifically the uppermost part of your uterus (your fundus) & uterine muscles bearing down, baby moving down through your body and out into your arms – the down and up of a J shape!
J breathing is a nice relaxed breath, long breath in, longer breath out, in thorough the nose, out through the mouth – sound familiar?
How to do J-Breathing:
- Take a nice long breath in through your nose
- Hold for a moment if you want to work with a natural surge (optional!)
- Breath out through your mouth as you focus on down and up, you baby moving down and the up into your arms
- Repeat at a nice slow pace that works with your body
If you find yourself holding your breath, face going red and chin locked to chest whilst you ‘PUSHHHHH” – that’s call the valsalva manoeuvre. And it’s exactly what we are trying to move away from with Down breathing and J Breathing.
Hypnobirthing breathing techniques help to create a quiet focus, making it easier to listen to your body’s needs, respond to it and support it with your breath.
How to use a down breathing script
- Practice the down breath first. Get used to the breath before using the script. 3 breaths should be enough! You’ll find it easier to relax with this hypnobirthing script when you’re not trying to teach yourself to breath!
- Record the script. Recordings help make your hypnobirthing practice easier. You won’t be reliant on anyone. Recording doesn’t need to be fancy. A basic voice recording app on your phone will do. Remember never to play it whilst driving!
- Partner reads the script. Really nice to do if you have a birth partner or friend. Ask them to read you the script whilst you relax.
- Memorise the down breathing visualisations. Pick your favourite visualisation and think of it as you practice your breath.
- Practice on the toilet. Your body can spontaneously birth your baby without you consciously telling it to. There’s no way to say this delicately…but think about poo. No one needs to coach you to push out a poo. And no needs to coach you to birth a baby. (Unless theres a good medical reason to do otherwise). So from now on. When you need to poop. Don’t push or force anything. Relax instead. Do your down breathing & down visualisations and wait for natural expulsion!
KG Hypnobirthing Online Course
A practical Hypnobirthing course delivered online. Affordable. Re-suseable (watch as often as you like!). Includes Down Breathing, Up Breathing, Hypnobirthing relaxations & scripts and well as teacher led classes.
Down Breathing Script
Settle yourself nicely as you start this gentle practice of hypnobirthing relaxation.
And gently allow your eyes to close…softly and easily.
Body relaxing…letting go.
And just allow your thoughts to gently drift toward the day that you give birth to your baby…to the calm and connected birth of your baby.
Imagining that when the time comes… you can trust your body…and trust your instincts…instinctively knowing when your body starts to birth your baby down….trusting that your body may need no instruction from you at all…as your muscles move to turn your baby…easing your baby down…muscles tensing, muscles relaxing…muscles softening… as you prepare to meet your baby…
So during this downward phase of birth…imagine centring yourself…bringing your awareness towards your breath…towards your body…down towards your baby….
Or bringing to mind… beautiful visualisations… that are soft and open… or flowing gently downwards…beautiful visualisations… that match the majesty of your birthing body’s movement… focusing yourself, calming yourself and settling yourself into this downward stage of birth.
So take this moment to imagine the gentle downward movement of your body and your baby…
Your baby is moving easily down…
Knowing that with each breath… your baby is moving down…
With each breath… your baby is coming to you…
So you might like to imagine a beautiful rainbow. A rainbow reaching down from the sky. Just imagine travelling down through this rainbow…drifting down through the reassuring red…the warming orange…the gentle yellow…down through the gorgeous green…and the beautiful blue…down through the indigo and eventually the violet.
Imagine ripples of water flowing out on a lake (or loch!). The lake is still and calm but every time you throw a pebble in…the stone creates ripples… gentle ripples flow flowing out… watching as the pebble drops down…and the ripples flow out…the ripples are fluid and smooth… spreading further and further…out and out…fading gently away….gently away… as the water settles…and smoothes…
Imagine a waterfall flowing gently down. A beautiful waterfall reflecting the sun… the water flowing gently down (or optionally flowing powerfully down if you prefer!)….the water always reaching the pool below…the water knowing its own way…flowing down…always reaching the pool below…
Imagine rain drops on a window. You can imagine that you are nicely settled inside…watching the rain on the window outside…each drop of rain gently wandering its own way down the glass, it’s path twisting and turning, but always down… some raindrops do it alone…some raindrops drops meet with others…to combine…to become one…as they grow stronger…more confident…alway moving down…
Imagine spring blossom as summer wanders in. Beautiful whites and pinks of the full spring blossoms. As the flowers open and the sun warms towards summer. The petals of blossom start to gently fall. Slowly and first then almost like snow. Beautiful petals drifting gently down in the warm spring breezes. Petals drifting gently down. Dancing and drifting gently down.
Imagine rich autumn leaves ready to fall. Beautiful green leaves ready to change. Readying to let go. Vibrant greens giving way to rich reds and oranges. Yellows and golds turn. As the leaves turn. Turn to brown. Ready to fall. Falling gently down. Drifting and dancing gently down. Down and down in the gentle breeze.
Just imagine the gentle downward movement of your body and of your baby.
With each breathe…you breath your baby down
Your baby moves easily…your baby moves naturally…
Your baby knows exactly what to do…on its journey down through birth…
Just focus your attention down…down towards your baby…your baby is coming to you…your baby will soon be in your arms…
Like Down Breathing?
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