26 Jun Core Breath: why this postpartum breathing technique is important for everyone
Breathing is under-rated. People who lift weights understand that it is important to breath when actually lifting the weight, since holding your breath can increase blood pressure or potentially cause a hernia. It is important to breath with exertion to control the increase in abdominal pressure that happens.
Women who work with a pelvic health physiotherapist after they have given birth learn to master core breathing, which is the same exhalation with exertion, but adding a pelvic floor muscle contraction with every exhale.
“Core Breathing” is using your breath when you properly contract your pelvic floor muscles with movement. You want to inhale, expand your belly and relax your pelvic floor, then when you exhale, lift and engage your pelvic floor muscles.
Try these two exercises:
- Bridge + Kegel: lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the mat (or bed). Exhale and engage your pelvic floor as you push through your feet to lift your hips up, then inhale and lower your body to neutral position, and repeat 10-15x.
- Squat + Kegel: Have a chair behind you, and squat down keeping your chest up and butt out (keep your feet fairly wide); just touch your butt to the chair without fully sitting as you inhale, then stand as you exhale and engage your pelvic floor; repeat 15-20 times, and can vary speed.
Neither of these should be painful. Keep in mind it often takes practice before you are able to easily perform these exercises and use core breathing.