Yoga for Birthing


What about Yoga for Birthing?

So, we see and read plenty about why yoga is good in pregnancy and how to use it to get into shape post nataly, but just how can yoga be used in the actual birth? If an expectant woman has been to yoga throughout her pregnancy she generally was a few things in her yoga tool kit already and her yoga practice will have nurtured her throughout her 9mths (approx.) of pregnancy wonderfully. Those that haven’t might only be coming to yoga at the end of the pregnancy, before the birth

Yoga in birthing provides the woman will extra tools to use at the actual birth. It’s not that the yoga teacher needs to be at the birth (unless agreed on by both parties) but they can provide the woman with some extremely useful tips and techniques to help her through her birth so that the birth occurs as naturally, as peacefully, and as pain free as possible. The key really is in the breath and using it to create a calm mind, so that the body also relaxes enough to allow the baby to be born. If a woman keeps her focus and feels in control, especially via the use of breath, then this can help her be as calm and relaxed as possible, and for her baby to be born into the World in the most possible gentle way

Here I am sharing some of the many techniques that will help a woman in the birthing of her baby.


In the early first stage of labour:

Full yogic breathing – Ujayii breathing – ocean breath, to sustain and focus, draw attention within, lower blood pressure and maintain calm. Breathe out into a contraction and focus on the exhale and then continue breathing as feels comfortable; find a rhythm. The out breath is the antidote to pain. If massive contractions and they can’t help but hold the breath, use sound to help them exhale. Breathe into their partner’s hands. The partner puts their hands on the lower back; the woman then breathes ‘down their back’ and ‘into their partner’s hands’.

Affirmation: I am ready and prepared for my birthing experience.


Labouring positions:

½ squat and rock – one foot flat, other tucked under. To move through contractions and give openness in groin. Cat – helps you move through contractions. Rest upright and forwards between contractions, on a ball or a mound of cushions. Always keep upper body higher than the lower end to let gravity do its job. Funny walks – when you get a contraction, hang on your partner’s neck Hip rotations – against a wall, on a ball, in cat.

Affirmation: I trust that my body knows exactly what it’s doing.


In the later first stage and second stage (active labour):

Breathing – As contractions strengthen, They may want to breathe more quickly and lightly, partner puts hands upper back just below shoulder blades – they breathe into the pressure of their hands. If you start breathing TOO quickly, partner takes the lead and breathes loudly, it’ll help the woman slow down.

Horse breath – If they find their jaw tensing up, they can exhale like a horse through flapping lips. Aim to make a sound, resonating the air between their lips.

Cooling the soup – When expansions come that are sharper to handle, breathe out with small out breaths through the mouth, as if they are cooling some soup or blowing candles out.

Sounds –  ‘Ahhh’ and ‘Oohhh’ are the sounds that really help to make the baby move down. Sound the sounds inside, and visualise baby moving down the birth canal.  

Affirmation: My courage and patience will send my baby into my arms.


Birthing Breath (Cafetiere Breath):

With the birthing breath, the woman allows their conscious awareness to descend down the body with each out breath. Begin by taking an in breath as deeply as you can and focus on moving down your spine on the out breath. Wherever your mind focuses at the end of your exhalation is where you begin from with your next inhalation. Keep moving down the body with each out breath until you are focused in the cervix, birth canal and perineum. This is where you focus on expanding with each forthcoming exhalation. They can voice the breath with a ‘haaah’ sound that feels good and helps abdominals work with bearing down contractions. Extend the exhale as long as they can to increase the pressure of your uterus. When baby is crowning and they are asked to break from pushing, they can use the ‘feather’ breath (the sound ‘hooh’) – very gentle and soft small out breaths, or ‘purring’ breath to disengage abdominal muscles from pelvic floor.

Affirmation: I trust in my ability to birth my baby.


Third Stage: Delivering the Placenta:

Once the baby is born, the birthing breath can be used to help birth the placenta.

Affirmation: My body is completely relaxed and let’s go easily.The main idea of yoga for labour and birth is that the mother can make her own choices, be empowered to control herself and the birth of her child and be present and mindful of the entire experience, especially in using the breath. Partner massage, essential oils, flower remedies, music, hypnotherapy and relaxations techniques all help, along with some great positive powerful affirmations. This time in her life is one she will always remember and so it is wonderful if it is a positive one. Also, if the birth is a positive experience then this will reflect onto the newborn energetically and so this is the aim of Yoga for Birth and preparation in birthing rehearsal classes and workshops. Even if there are complications within the labour and birth, a mother using yoga and mindfulness methods, can feel more in control of themselves and their experience of it.

By Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner – Pre-& Post Natal Senior Teacher Trainer at Yogakidz Worldwide. Yogakidz Worldwide is Not for Profit company that runs Teacher training courses, for teaching all