Updated: Mar 9
Are you ready to build a strong and functioning core? Whether you are pregnant or postpartum (or none of the above) you can do these three breathing exercises and start strengthening your deep core today. This comes with countless benefits, such as less aches in pain in the lower back region, better stabilization throughout your trunk area, more power when lifting things (kids, strollers, cars seats, etc) and you can prevent common issues like pelvic floor dysfunction aka. peeing a little when you lift, sneeze, jump or laugh. And the best part about it - you can learn it now and do it in 3-5 minute breaks during your day wherever you go.
Practice these three breathing exercises during pregnancy and postpartum to connect to your deep core aka. TVA (Transverse abdomens) and support your core in all its function, prevent (worsening of) Diastasis Recti and accelerate regaining strength postpartum.
Disclaimer: The information shared in this guide and any information shared by Maike Mancuso via Maike Mancuso Coaching or Mama Method or in any other manner is not medical advice and is not meant to replace medical advice.
Always talk to your care provider before starting any exercise routine or program to get full clearance. If you are experiencing any changes in your well-being please make sure to talk to your care provider to get updated advice.
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In order to restore the core strength, do the following:
Avoid movements that place high stress on your abdominal wall and pelvic floor, such as planks, crunches, heavy lifting, jumping, running or other high impact movement patterns during the first few weeks of your recovery and the last trimester. (And earlier or beyond, if recommended or necessary.)
Use your bodies feedback to establish the pace and intensity in which you can move during any given stage of motherhood.
Practice the following breathing exercises to reconnect to your core and learn to manage the intra abdominal pressure during daily tasks.
Check on your alignment during daily tasks. Aligning yourself optimally will support your breathing patterns as well as healing process.
Rebuilding the foundation:
Embrace the foundations (these breathing exercises) and take 5-10 minutes per day to practice. You can practice each of the breathing exercises seperately to get the hang of it.
Yet, the core compression combines them all under one roof.
Do you need more information? In-depth instructions, video content and step by step guides are included in the New Mama Fitness Program.
Step 1: master the Umbrella Breathing aka. 360° Breath or Diaphramatic Breathing
All breathing exercises can be performed in a number of different positions. All cues are appropriate for the different positions as long as you find your proper alignment first.
Position: for early postpartum you can lay on your side with your knees slightly bend and stacked on top of each other.
Use the ground and your upper hand for physical feedback by positioning it on your lower rib cage on the upper side of your body.
Inhale, expand your rib cage like an umbrella in all directions outwards (breathing into your side body, front and back). Release back to center on your exhale. Repeat.This way of breathing encourages the diaphragm to move optimally with your breath.
Direct your breath into the belly and lower rip cage area and avoid lifting your shoulders and collor bones when inhaling deeply.
Umbrella Breathing or 360° breath is a technique to utilize the diaphragm optimally and fan out the lower rib cage while inhaling (like opening an umbrella) and relaxing it back to its natural position on the exhale (like closing an umbrella). This is especially important after pregnancy, because the growing baby most likely pushedorgans up against the diaphragm and limited it in its range of motion. The umbrella breath is a way to reconnect to the full range of motion that the diaphragm is capable of and supports the overall function of the core. It is referred to as diaphragmatic breathing.
Step 2: move on to the Connection Breath with Step 1 in mind
The Connection breath combines the Umbrella breath and the pelvic floor movement to allow the two elements of the core canister to work in unison.
Position: Lay on your back with your knees bend and feet about hip width distance apart.
Inhale through your nose using the Umbrella breath technique.
Exhale through your mouth like you are blowing out a candle. While you exhale relax your diaphragm and lift your pelvic floor (aka Kegels). Imagine you are holding your pee, or lifting up a marble with your vagina and pelvic floor muscles.
Inhale through your nose using the Umbrella breath technique - be sure to relax and release your pelvic floor on your inhale.
The Connection Breath includes Umbrella breathing and connects the diaphragm and the pelvic floor to function in unison together to optimally manage Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP). Take your time to practice this breath. It may take a few rounds or even a few days to establish the mind muscle connection and feel the right muscles engage on cue.
TIP: match the effort your are putting into the contraction of your pelvic floor and core to the task at hand. You do not need to squeeze 100% to pick up a tissue. A light contraction will do (30-40%). More is not always better.
Step 3: Bring it all together and learn to manage your IAP with the Core Compression
This is a valuable breathing exercises and the previous breathing exercises will help you progress step by step towards the core compression technique.
Position: Lying on your back or side with knees bent. (Other positions such as kneeling or table top work as well, as long as you are in alignment.)
Take a deep in breath through your nose. Let your lower rip cage and abdominal wall expand in all directions outwards (breathing into your side body, front and back) - Umbrella breathing.
With your lips slightly parted, blow air out through your mouth while tightening your abdominal wall (engaging the TVA). Draw your belly button in and up while also engaging and lifting your pelvic floor lightly. Imagine you are zipping up a tight jacket from the bottom up.
Exhale completely before releasing the engagement of the deep core and pelvic floor on yourinhalation.
The Core Compression exercises is a way of engaging the deep core, the TVA (Transeverse abdominis), which is the muscle that wraps around the torso like a corset. It is an important stabilizer muscle to support your back and midsection during everyday life movements.
Step 4: Use the deep core activation during every day life movement and traditions
While we might spend 30-60 minutes a day (probably less) working out, it is more important to bring optimal movement patterns and core engagement into our daily life, since that is the majority of our day. If we spend 23h a day with dysfunctional movement patterns and loading stress on weakened areas in our body, the 30-60 minutes mindful body movement won't make up for that. Think about your breathing and posture during every movement in your daily life and truly strengthen your body and core by just going about your day.
Are you ready to dive deeper into your core rehab? Ready to add evidence based movement to these breathing exercises to strengthen your core and pelvic floor? Book a Personal Training Session or join the Restore the core Program for postpartum mamas.