26 Jul Restoring Your Breath After Baby
We’re not talking halitosis here!
Breathing is something that happens naturally all day and night, right? Not necessarily. We often think of the “core” as just the abs and back muscles, but really it is the pelvic floor group at the bottom and the diaphragm at the top too. As we take in breath, the diaphragm descends (to allow space for the lungs to expand), the rib cage expands, and both the abdominal wall and pelvic floor relax. When we exhale it’s the opposite: the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles increase tension, the rib cage contracts, and some of the back muscles contracts to help with support.
When pregnant, the body has put on a good amount of weight in a short amount of time, fascia has lengthened, and sometimes after giving birth the body can almost “forget” this natural breathing pattern. Before any return to exercise, your physiotherapist needs to ensure that the sequence of core function with breathing is normal and proper.
Faulty breathing patterns will slow down the return of your pelvic floor and the rest of your core to normal function! If there is a Diastasis Recti (i.e separation of abdominal muscles after childbirth), performing pelvic floor and abdominal exercises to help close this will not be effective. Bad breathing strategies can lead to increased abdominal pressure that can impact both your abdominal muscles and your pelvic floor. Not cool.
What to do? Your Physiotherapist needs to ensure proper function with breath of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, abdominals, deep back muscles, hips, and lower back. If they’re not behaving properly, then cuing, visualization, and different exercises are prescribed to restore the proper movement. Once the “normal”, functional breathing pattern is back, other exercises can be prescribed and progressed to help with strengthening the pelvic floor, helping any diastasis recti, and returning to regular activities.
But it all starts with the breath!