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Top Tips for Labour

Sorting the wheat from the chaff: Top tips for Pregnancy Yoga techniques that really are useful for labour.

During pregnancy, we are bombarded with key sources of ‘must-read’ information and snippets of advice from every maternity professional, plus non-professionals too!

Here you’ll find some very simple yet highly effective techniques that will aid you in first stage labour when the cervix is dilating. And we know they are mightily useful because our pregnancy students come back after birth and tell us what worked and what didn’t work for them. These beautiful Birthlight Yoga techniques are being hailed as ‘revolutionising the way that women labour’.

Our top YOGA techniques

There are so many ways in which you can use yoga during labour. Yoga and birth, quite simply fit together so naturally. Below are a few suggestions for ways to help you move and rest during first stage labour.


Ignore your contractions as long as you can by resting as much as possible if you are tired, or getting on with your daily life if you feel energised. When this is not possible start with some of the tips and positions that follow.

You can go for a walk, buy some flowers, do some gentle yoga moves on a mat or birthing ball, make some brownies, watch funny and uplifting films. Do things that are connected to your baby's arrival, but don't exhaust yourself with chatter and errands.

Labour requires a few distraction techniques that usually run in this order:

  • Welcome labour
  • ignore labour
  • start moving and breathing through contractions
  • massage/tens machine
  • shower on the lower back (have a stool to rest on)
  • bath,
  • go to the hospital or call the midwife


The woman should be sitting or leaning forwards and upright, though this can be done with her lying on her side.

During contractions:

Start with partners palm on the sacrum. Massage from side to side, or clockwise circles, or put pressure on either side of the sacrum with palms, or use your whole body weight to press palm into the sacrum.

Between contractions:

  • Inhale - hands up arms to shoulders. 
  • Exhale - hands down to hips, put pressure on the sacrum, or move down thighs and shake off.
  • Inhale - hands up the sides of the back, then Exhale - down the woman's arms: shake off.
  • Try different variations of the above to find what suits you.
  • Birth partner breathes loudly and slowly; gives a cue to the woman.



This is one of our favourites: use a scarf or dressing gown belt to loop over the door or even the bannister post at the bottom of the stairs. Keep upper body higher than the lower end to let gravity do its job.

From this position you can easily move the hips, cat curls the spine or stretch the sides of the body. Or just hang out!


Initially try Ujayii breathing - ocean breath, to sustain and draw attention within, to lower blood pressure and help you maintain your calm. Breathe out into a contraction and focus on the exhale and then continue breathing as feels comfortable; find a rhythm. If in doubt breathe out! The out-breath is the antidote to pain.

Golden Thread Breath

The purpose of this breath is to block the pain receptors in the brain, by re-focusing the mind on visualising a golden thread. Use your imagination with this. You can visualise a thin golden thread, a big fat golden ribbon, golden light spiralling from the mouth as you breathe out.

Lips barely apart, breathe in through the nose and out through thinly parted lips. A fine, long, thin breath; the longer the breath the farther out you follow it. The farther out it spins, the more focused the mind needs to be; the more focused the mind on the out-breath, the more powerful the antidote to pain. Add:  'AHHH' AND 'OHHH' SOUNDS DOWN THE BODY as you breathe out.

At InJoy Yoga, we highly recommend all pregnant women use yoga techniques during pregnancy and labour. By empowering women with the skills and knowledge of labour and birth, by understanding how labour works and how yoga can help, and knowing what options are available to you, your baby and your birthing team, we can remove fear and worries as we move towards a positive birthing experience.  

InJoy Yoga offers three Pregnancy Yoga classes per week across the Borough of Croydon. Yoga during pregnancy is a great way of supporting you and your baby.  Carefully adapted classic yoga postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques promote harmony, joy, trust and self-confidence. Click here for more details.

Our Birth Preparation workshop is a practical and in-depth workshop which takes you through the stages of labour and shows you movements, resting positions, breathing techniques and relaxation techniques that many women find useful. Click here for more details or watch the brief video here on why you really should attend.


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