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Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques for Labour

With Free PDF Download

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/ by Gudrun Getz M.A. / May 12, 2022

Right now I’m exactly 37 weeks pregnant with my second baby AND it’s my first “baby” Ursula’s 4th birthday! I can’t help but think back to the day she was born while also wondering what this baby’s birth will be like. One thing I’m making sure of is that I’m much more prepared for a natural childbirth this time. I had a fantastic home birth with my daughter, but I was definitely underprepared for coping with the pain. This time I’m learning plenty of hypnobirthing breathing techniques for labour to help me.

Also, I don’t have a lot of time on my hands what with a demanding preschooler to look after. I can’t be going to 4-hour long workshops or reading long books about this stuff. This Mama wants quick answers about how to cope with a natural birth. Give me the gist and I’ll be on my way! That’s why I thought I’d create a quick and easy guide to hypnobirthing breathing techniques for labour. I’m even including a free printable PDF download of them all at the end of this post. You. Are. Welcome 🙂

If you want to learn more about what hypnobirthing is, check out my Hypnobirthing 101 post over here.

Table of Contents

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What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a technique that uses relaxation, breath control and visualisation methods to help you achieve a less painful labour. It’s particularly helpful if you want a natural childbirth with no chemical pain relief like an epidural or opiates.

Is hypnobirthing painless?

Childbirth is unlikely to ever be 100% painless – you are pushing a small human being out of yourself after all! Hypnobirthing gives you powerful tools to help you manage the pain and work in harmony with your body though. One aim of hypnobirthing is to help you “breathe your baby out” rather than push, strain and struggle.

Whenever you read a hypnobirthing story, you generally find that it reduced the pain and made labour more manageable.

What does hypnobirthing involve?

Hypnobirthing uses a number of positive mindfulness techniques to help overcome fear and anxiety during labour. In doing this, the body is more able to progress through childbirth naturally. You’ll be much more able to cope with childbirth pains and deliver naturally when your body is relaxed and your mind is free from stress and anxiety.

The main techniques hypnobirthing uses are:

  • Visualisations and guided meditations
  • Positive affirmations
  • Deep relaxation techniques, often with audio tracks
  • Calming breathing techniques

What is hypnobirthing breathing?

hypnobirthing techniques for labour pdf

Hypnobirthing teaches four main breathing techniques for use in labour, which are:

  • Calm Breath
  • Up Breath
  • Down Breath
  • Birth Breath

Some teachers may teach additional breathing techniques or call them by a different name, but they tend to be a variation of these four. Let’s take a look at each one and their uses in turn.

Calm breath

Best Time For Use In between contractions, better known as “waves” or “surges” in hypnobirthing

How To Do It With your eyes closed and your body soft and relaxed, inhale for the count of 4. Then exhale gently through an open mouth for a count of 8. As you exhale, imagine and try to feel your breath working down through your body from your chest to your toes.

Up breath

Best Time For Use During waves/surges

How To Do It With your eyes closed, imagine your tummy is a big balloon. Inhale through your nose for the count of 4, while imagining the balloon filling up. Then exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. As you exhale, imagine a candle in front of you and aim to make this candle flicker but not blow out completely.

Down breath

Best Time For Use During waves/surges

How To Do It With your eyes closed, imagine your tummy as a big balloon again. Place your hands low on your tummy near your public bone. Inhale through your nose as slowly as you can (up to a count of 20), while imagining the balloon filling up. Then exhale through the nose this time. As you exhale, imagine the breath and the balloon moving down through your pubic bone. Repeat for as long as the surge lasts and switch to Calm Breath when the surge is over.

Birth breath

Best Time For Use After transition when the baby is coming down the birth canal. This ideally replaces the “pushing” phase of traditional childbirth

How To Do It Inhale fully but quickly through the nose and exhale slowly with additional pelvic floor energy. Try to think “down” rather than “push”. This is a good breath to practice on the toilet while you’re doing a poo. Your body naturally knows how to expel a poo and does it every day. Next time you’re on the loo, try to consciously engage with that natural reflex. If you practice it every time you do a number two, you’ll be able to do it instinctively when the time comes.


You can download all the hypnobirthing breathing techniques for labour described in a simple printable PDF for free by filling in the form at the bottom of this post. I hope it helps with your natural birth journey, but if you feel you need more support in labour, do check out KG Hypnobirthing’s online course. If, like me, you don’t have much time on your hands it’s perfect for fitting around your busy schedule.

They offer:

  • A full in-depth antenatal programme available online with 12 hours of video content
  • All the supporting documents, audio downloads and materials you need
  • An accompanying Facebook support group so you can build a network of fellow hypnobirthers around you
  • Online learning at home where you’re comfortable and not at the mercy of someone else’s timetable
  • A special COVID-19 module to give you extra support through the pandemic

You can start at any stage of pregnancy and they offer easy to follow instructions. The course is a very accessible and economical at just £45. Here’s Deliciously Ella to tell you more about her experience of KG Hypnobirthing.

That’s all from me for now. I wish you all the best in your natural and positive birthing journey.

love, Gudrun

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