Inhale, Exhale: 5 Benefits of Incorporating Breathing Exercises During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman performing breathing exercise | pregnancy breathing exercises

Pregnancy is an incredible journey full of love, joy, and excitement. But it can also bring a fair share of challenges, including physical discomfort and strain. One of the best ways to cope with these challenges and prepare for labour is through breathing exercises. Not only do they help you stay calm and centred, but they also have a host of benefits for both you and your baby. So take a deep breath and let's explore the world of pregnancy breathing exercises!

Here are some common pregnancy breathing exercises:

Deep Breathing

Breath in through your nostrils, breathe out through your lips. Concentrating on deep, unhurried breathing can help decrease heart rate, stabilize blood pressure, and alleviate mental tension by enabling us to detach from disturbing or distracting thoughts.

Belly Breathing: 

  1. Put your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your belly contract.

Counted Breathing: 

Take a deep breath in for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, exhale slowly for a count of four, and hold for a count of four before taking the next breath.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: 

  1. Using your thumb, close one nostril and inhale deeply through the other. 
  2. Hold for a moment, then release and exhale through the same nostril. 
  3. Repeat on the other side.

Cleansing Breath: 

Inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale forcefully through your mouth with a "ha" sound.

These breathing exercises can help you relax, manage tension, and prepare for labour and delivery. It's always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy.

When to start breathing exercises during pregnancy?

It's never too early to start preparing your body for childbirth, and that includes practising breathing exercises. Generally, it's recommended to start practising breathing exercises in the second trimester of pregnancy, around 13-16 weeks. However, it's never too late to start either - even if you're close to your due date, practising these exercises can help you feel more prepared and calm during labour and delivery.

How to do breathing exercises during pregnancy?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do breathing exercises during pregnancy:

  1. Choose a peaceful and cosy spot to sit or recline, ensuring no interruptions.
  2. Sit with your back straight or lie on your left side with a pillow to support your back.
  3. Close your eyes and breathe deeply to calm your body and mind.
  4. Begin with abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe deeply through your nose, feeling your belly rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale.
  5. Move on to rhythmic breathing by inhaling slowly for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, and then exhaling slowly for a count of four.
  6. Practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as the relaxing breath, by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four, and holding your breath for a count of seven. Exhale slowly for a count of eight through your mouth.
  7. Try alternate nostril breathing, also known as Nadi Shodhana, by inhaling deeply through your left nostril, holding your breath, and exhaling through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, hold your breath and exhale through your left nostril.
  8. End your breathing exercise session with a few deep breaths, bringing your focus back to your body and surroundings.

Benefits of breathing exercises during pregnancy

Breathing exercises during pregnancy have numerous benefits for both the mother and the developing baby. Some of the major advantages include:

Reducing tension and strain: 

Pregnancy can be a tense time for women, and breathing exercises can help reduce tension and strain levels. Deep breathing techniques can calm the nervous system and reduce the release of tension hormones.

Improves oxygen flow: 

Breathing exercises help improve the flow of oxygen to the body and the developing fetus. This can be especially beneficial during labour and delivery when the body requires more oxygen.

Boosts energy levels: 

Pregnancy can be exhausting, and breathing exercises can help boost energy levels. By increasing oxygen flow and reducing tension levels, breathing exercises can help women feel more energized and refreshed.

Promotes relaxation and better sleep: 

Breathing exercises can help you relax and improve the quality of your sleep. This is especially beneficial for pregnant women who may have trouble sleeping due to discomfort or hormonal changes.

Prepares for labour and delivery: 

Breathing exercises can help prepare women for labour and delivery by increasing lung capacity, improving stamina, and teaching relaxation techniques that can be used during contractions.

Are breathing exercises safe during pregnancy?

  • Yes, Breathing exercises are generally considered safe during pregnancy.
  • They can help improve respiratory function, reduce tension, and promote relaxation.
  • However, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy.
  • Certain types of breathing exercises, such as those that involve holding your breath for extended periods, may not be safe for pregnant women.
  • Additionally, it's important to listen to your body and stop any exercise that causes discomfort or pain.

5 Precautions during breathing exercises

Here are some precautions to keep in mind when doing breathing exercises during pregnancy:

Consult with your healthcare provider: 

Before starting any new exercise routine, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider. They can give you personalized recommendations based on your health and pregnancy.

Don't overdo it: 

It's important not to overdo it with breathing exercises during pregnancy. Overexertion can lead to dizziness or shortness of breath, which can be harmful to both you and your baby.

Avoid holding your breath: 

Holding your breath can cause a decrease in oxygen flow to your baby, which can be dangerous. Make sure to breathe continuously throughout the exercises.

Avoid lying flat on your back: 

Lying flat on your back can put pressure on a major vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart, which can reduce blood flow to your baby. It's best to avoid this position during breathing exercises.

Listen to your body: 

If you experience any pain, discomfort, or shortness of breath during breathing exercises, stop immediately and consult with your healthcare provider. It's important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard.

By following these precautions, you can safely enjoy the benefits of breathing exercises during pregnancy.

Take Away

Breathing exercises are a safe and effective way to improve overall health during pregnancy. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider and take necessary precautions before starting any exercise regimen.


Why breathing exercises are important for pregnancy?

Breathing exercises are important for pregnancy as they can help to reduce tension and strain, improve relaxation, and prepare the body for labour and delivery.

Can I bend in the first trimester?

It is generally safe to bend during the first trimester of pregnancy, but it is important to listen to your body and avoid any movements that cause discomfort or pain.

Which yoga is best for normal delivery?

Yoga practices such as prenatal yoga and modified Hatha yoga are considered to be safe and effective for promoting a healthy pregnancy and preparing for normal delivery.


Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant tension response - Harvard Health Publishing

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