Take a few minutes a couple times per day to breathe intentionally as follows: Upon inhalation let your belly and pelvic floor be soft or relaxed. No need to “push out” your stomach or try and force anything. As you exhale, lift/engage/squeeze your pelvic floor and think of contracting your abdominals from all directions to squeeze at your belly button. For example, you should feel your sides coming in, your belly button moving toward your back, your back moving toward your belly button and the rib cage moving downward into the body. Remember on the inhalation to relax. This should feel like work! Your muscles will probably be tired and shaky by the end of a long exhalation. Breath work like this helps bring sensation back to the muscles of the abdomen—don’t be scared if you don’t “feel” much muscular engagement right away. Keep practicing. This breath can be used for relaxation, building strength, digestion, and over all well-being. To facilitate more muscular connections you can place your hands on either side of your waist with your fingertips facing your belly button. Upon exhalation press the muscles of your abdomen together toward your belling button “closing the space” around your belly button. This helps the muscle fibers overlap and can be a great tool to help prevent diastasis recti. To facilitate digestion (hello, c-section mamas!) stand to the side of the bed leaning over with your forearms resting on the bed. Inhale let the belly/pelvic floor relax (belly will lower toward the floor), exhale and squeeze the pelvic floor and focus on lifting the belly up toward your back without changing the position of your spine.
Breath work is the foundation to build your strength. After birth (but before you are “clear for exercise”) you will have to do hard things. You’ll have to get in and out of bed, sometimes quickly. You’ll have to get yourself, the baby, the car seat, the stroller, groceries, etc. in and out of the car. You’ll have to maybe climb stairs and even using the restroom can put strain on the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen. If you practice the breath in this way, you can call on that strengthen when you have to do hard things. Need to get the baby + car seat OUT of the middle of your SUV? Ok. Grab said car seat + baby with a solid/supportive stance. Inhale and relax. Exhale and engage the pelvic floor and abdominal wall and lift. Less strain on you and less room for injury.
So get that breath flowing! The video at the home page of this blog shows different positions to practice the breath techniques. You can absolutely do this breathing while pregnant, but your intention should be different. Focus on the RELEASE of the abdominals and pelvic floor to give yourself space to stretch and relax those muscle groups.