Techniques used during pregnancy and labour

Traditional breathing techniques used for relaxation and pain during childbirth

This method relies on relaxation, and breathing exercises that helps decrease the intensity of the pain during contractions and enables you to regain your strength during labour and to ease the baby's delivery.

Several breathing exercises, thoracic or panting breathing for example, will help you to cope with labour.

Deep breathing helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles and gives you a focus during contraction pain, which also helps with progression of the baby's delivery.


Yoga is a thousand-year-old Indian practice which brings harmony to the body, the mind and the spirit.
Yoga is based on postures and conscious breathing.
Yoga is a philosophy of life which enables its followers to establish a harmony between their body and spirit.
  • Yoga can be started from the beginning of your pregnancy.
  • It can help to relieve back ache and other minor ailments during pregnancy.
  • Yoga helps with controlled breathing and relaxation techniques during labour as well as good posture.
  • Yoga works simultaneously on the body and the mind.

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Sophrology is a structured method created to optimise health and well being and is commonly use in France to help overcome pain and learn how to relax in particular during labour.

It can be learnt and carried out from the 5th or 6th month of pregnancy.

Main principles of sophrology

Women often opt for this method from the 7th month.
Exercises are performed with your eyes closed.
  • Mental and muscular relaxation exercises, which allow the muscles to loosen up which aids deep breathing in a calm and focused way.
  • Helps you to keep calm and keep focused control your emotions.
  • Techniques are taught to help you visualise the various stages, which will occur before labour and during the baby's birth. This helps you to anticipate significant moments of pregnancy and labour.
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Working on being conscious of your body.
  • Learning how to recover between contractions.
  • Maintaining a mental state between awakening and sleep.

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This technique very commonly used in France. It aims to bring the father and mother into contact with their baby by exerting light pressure with their hands on the mother's uterus in order to feel the baby moving.

The father and the mother thus experience together the development of their future baby.

Haptonomy, is started as soon as the baby starts to move in the mother's womb around about 4 to 5 months.

Haptonomy is taught by qualified practitioners and to individual couples, not groups.

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Aqua natal

Aqua natal is a form of exercise carried out in a swimming pool during pregnancy. It is safe and helps to maintain physical and mental well-being. It can help shorten your labour and having an assisted delivery such as forceps or caesarean.

A midwife should carry out aqua natal or qualified instructor and you should check with your midwife or GP before joining a group.

Other benefits also include making new friends, improving your circulation, relaxation, keeping joints and muscles healthy.

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Bonapace (acupressure) method

This Canadian technique aims to decrease the intensity of the pain during labour.
It requires the commitment from your partner and can be followed from the sixth month of pregnancy.

The Bonapace method is similar to acupuncture but using fingers to apply pressure on certain pressure points located on the hands, feet and the back, and doing so gives pain relief during pregnancy and labour.

Other methods include: Tai-chi, Shiatsu, self-hypnosis, fascia therapy, Pilates, antenatal singing.

Document produced with the collaboration of Claire Gabillat
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