Using your breath and visualisation for a better birth

In hypnobirthing, we describe contractions as waves or surges. In the first stage of labour their job is to draw open the circular muscles of the cervix, rather like hitching up a hooped skirt. These surges ripple through our uterus like powerful waves.

Relaxation, during labour, simply allows these incredible muscles to do their work. Because, in fact, our biggest job in labour is to trust our bodies to do what they were born to do.


Imagine lying on a lilo in the ocean, with the waves lapping underneath you. You are completely relaxed, every muscle in your body is loose and limp like a rag doll. As each waves rolls beneath you, its movement ripples effortlessly through your body. The rhythmic rise and fall of the lilo is hypnotic. You allow it to happen, you trust the lilo to keep you afloat.

Now, imagine you are a harbour wall. You are strong and tense, bracing yourself against the tide. How do these same waves feel as they hit you? Where does the energy of the wave go?


Often, women in labour are tense. That’s natural. Birth is a big deal. Most of us will only do it once or twice in a lifetime. The power of your body in labour can be overwhelming; that’s why having some relaxation techniques on hand is so important.

Try this:

  1. Close your eyes for a moment and focus on your breath. Notice the rhythm of your body’s own relaxed breathing pattern.
  2. Then, clench your fist tightly. Pay attention to the effect that tension has on your breathing.
  3. Finally, focus again on your breathing, restore the relaxed breathing pattern.
  4. What happened to your fist?

Your breath is like a lever to relaxation. Breathing in, slowly, to the count of four and then out to the count of eight, like a great sigh, your shoulders sinking into the frame of your body. This calm breath flushes tension from your body and allows your surges to move freely through your uterus. Freeing your body to gently birth your baby, while you drift calmly on your lilo.

In hypnobirthing classes, you will find out other ways that fear and tension can affect the birthing process, as well as a range of tools to empower you to bring your baby gently and calmly into the world.