The first thing I teach my prenatal and postpartum clients to master is Core Connection Breathwork.
Why? Because our breathing patterns have a huge impact on how our core and pelvic floor function.
You might be thinking, “well that’s silly. We all know how to breathe or else we wouldn’t be living.”
Yes. And no. You might be surprised to learn how much actually goes into breathing. Also how difficult it can be to maintain breathing patterns as the pregnancy progresses, due to changes occurring in the body.
Benefits of Core Connection Breathing:
– can help reduce common pregnancy and postpartum related aches/pains
– strengthen/relax core and pelvic floor which is crucial for vaginal delivery
– provides stability, support and manages intra-abdominal pressure during lifting, bending, and carrying during exercise as well as life’s daily tasks
– helps prepare for labor by bringing awareness and connection to the pushing muscles
– gently restores core and pelvic floor postpartum
Before we dive into how to perform this exercise, let’s take a look at the key players we’re talking about when referring to the “core“.
Core = diaphragm, transverse abdominals (deepest layer of the abs), spinal muscles and pelvic floor.
These muscles work in sync naturally to help us stabilize and move pain-free.
Inhale -》diaphragm descends -》abdominals flatten and lengthen -》pelvic floor opens and relaxes.
Exhale -》pelvic floor lifts -》deep abdominals contract and wrap around spine -》diaphragm ascends.
Various reasons can cause our breathing patterns can alter over time. During pregnancy – stress, muscular and skeletal changes as the baby/belly grow, and an internal shift in positioning of the organs/tissues can disrupt our breath flow.
If we aren’t getting deep, full breaths to help strengthen our core muscles (think – shallow chest or belly breathing only) then these muscles can’t optimally function the way we want them to.
Example: as the belly grows and creates space for baby, the diaphragm rises in the chest cavity which makes it challenging to get full, deep breaths.
Ever seen someone or experienced breathless late pregnancy?
This dysfunction in breathing patterns can be linked to lower back/hip pain, shoulder aches, increased severity of diastasis recti, and possibly pelvic floor dysfunction (leaking, pain during sex, feelings of heaviness or like a tampon is falling out, etc.) *If you experience any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended to be assessed by a pelvic health physiotherapist who specializes in women’s health*
Just like any other muscle in our body, our entire core system needs to be strengthened. Developing awareness and connection through breathing is a great way to do it!
How to Practice:
We want an open posture to allow the space for our diaphragm to descend and ascend in sync with the abdominals and pelvic floor. You can practice while lying on your back, side, kneeling, sitting or standing. Ensure the ribs are stacked over the pelvis.
2. Place one hand on ribs and the other on the belly.
Inhale through the nose, feel air fill the body 360° (notice the hands on the ribcage and abdominals rise). Feel the breath gently relax the pelvic floor (blossom like a flower).
Exhale through the mouth, gently squeeze and lift pelvic floor while hugging baby with abs. Notice hands sink as the abdominals and ribcage deflate.
4. Practice, practice, practice.
Once you get the hang of it and have awareness of this connection, you can begin to incorporate during exercise and daily activities (core connection breath -》pick up baby or laundry basket)
Are you interested in personalized guidance while enjoying an active and safe pregnancy or postpartum journey? I offer online and in person training sessions to help you thrive!