What it is:
Rhythmic breathing is breathing using a recurring pattern. There are many variations a mother can try.
How it works:
If the mother has lost her focus or seems overcome by the power of her contractions, rhythmic breathing helps her to refocus her energy and attention. Refocusing her attention can help her feel more "in control" and less helpless, which can help her relax.
How to do it:
Signal for the mother to breath in and out in the rhythmic pattern you have chosen. Generally, shorter breaths will be easier than longer breaths, so you may want to start with a fast pattern (1 second in, one second out) and then slow the mother down once she is able to breathe with you.
Implementing it in labor:
If the mother finds the rhythmic breathing is helpful, give her a visual cue to breath in and out by raising and lowering your hand, or nodding your head.
For a mother who is panicking, move until you are directly in front of her face. In that position, inhale very loudly and then exhale loudly. She will begin to match her breathing to yours.
Add an element of distraction to the rhythmic breathing by counting her inhales during the contraction.