During pregnancy, a lot shifts in an expecting woman’s body but one thing we hear often is how difficult it becomes to breathe during the most simple movements and tasks. As the baby grows this becomes more noticeable due to the on-going growth of babe pushing the internal organs up towards the diaphragm and lungs.
When it comes to avoiding discomforts such as breathing challenges, low back, and various pelvic pain disorders, our diaphragmatic breathing techniques are the stars of the show. These same techniques when applied with re-patterning daily breathing + movements along with the way we apply them to exercise can even help in the prevention of many pregnancy-related injuries, aid in digestion, boost immunity by circulating lymphatic fluid, and assist in the labor and birth process.The benefits are truly endless!
Due to the lack of space in moms belly as the pregnancy progresses, re-patterning your breathing to come from your diaphragm vs your chest is one amazing way to make big shifts with pregnancy discomforts and overall health. With each diaphragmatic inhale, we strengthen the diaphragm and allow deeper access to the lunges for each breath. With practice and smart implementation, you can take your short shallow breathing to deep breaths with more ease than you can imagine. All the while, this same breathing can be utilized in birth to help support you and your baby in huge ways.
With all this talk, we’re sure you’re dying to know how to diaphragmatically breathe and best of all how to turn it into an exercise that strengthens your core. It’s simple really and your body knows how to do it, as we all come into this world breathing via our diaphragms. Watch your babies breath, they’re all breathing diaphragmatically as their bellies rise and fall gently with each breath. Often, times our children can be our greatest teachers and when it comes to diaphragmatic breathing, they take the cake.
Diaphragmatic Breaths: [simply breathing]
This can be done in various positions but over the years, I’ve found that most women adapt to it quicker at first, when lying supine [if it’s uncomfortable to lie on your back, prop yourself up with pillow] once you get the hang of it try it sitting, standing, on all fours, and even when you exercise, go for a hike, etc.
Place your hands on your abdomen, one palm lies along your outer ribcage while the other is placed at the front of your belly [above the belly button]
Inhale as you allow your diaphragm to fill your abdomen and sides of the body with the gentle inhalation. Use your hands as guides and with each inhalation try to gently expand your ribcage laterally into the palm placed at the ribcage and with that same gentle expansion, notice the rise of the front of the belly into the other palm
As this inhale increases, it travels from the ribcage [where the diaphragm lives] down into the abdomen and then lastly into the pelvis as it softens the pelvic floor in the same way that it softens the abdomen
Exhale in opposition; first, the PF rebounds back to its neutral state, followed by the belly falling back towards the spine and the ribcage moving back into its neutral position.
All of this movement is JUST breath so make sure that nothing feels forced as each inhale and exhale should feel natural and supportive of each breath.
Try to allow this breath to become your new normal. Its benefits are endless during and post-pregnancy as well as supporting you and your core for life.
Believe it or not, you can turn this same breathing technique into an exercise that will help you create more balance and awareness in your core unit.
Tapping into the core is crucial during pregnancy and Bloom Method clients find it irreplaceable to what it’s able to teach them in regards to life long core awareness.
Diaphragmatic Breath w/ Intentional Activation [sometimes called The Belly Pump]:
[the exercise component of the diaphragmatic breath]
Finding the position that’s easiest for your body, begin your diaphragmatic breaths
As you inhale, fill the ribcage & belly with that same gentle breath
The exhale is where we change things up a bit. As you exhale, begin to make a powerful Ssssss sound [The Bloom Method calls this a resisted exhale] and with the first S that comes off your lips, start to lift the pelvic floor muscles [from the sides, front and back, lifting everything upward]
This is quickly followed by your core engagement, as you start to wrap your abdomen as if you were tightening a corset around your torso. You can imagine the activation moving up the core with the continued exhale [hip bones draw in towards one another, then the mid-section wraps, and lastly your ribcage knits together]
Take your time allowing your breath to be deep and expansive, yet slow and controlled. Think about naturally filling the ribcage & belly during the inhale, with the last 1/3 of this breath moving into the chest while you concentrate on “hugging baby’ tightly on the exhale to tap into your deep core activation.
Remember to always lead with the pelvic floor on the exhale and engagement as forgetting this step can cause a downward pressure that can weaken the muscles of the pf.
Try to add your diaphragmatic breaths to your bedtime routine to begin, re-introducing your body to this form of breathing. The more you practice it, the more awareness you create and the faster the re-patterning will take place. The exercise component of this technique can be used throughout your day or added to an exercise to optimize your workouts and make each move more effective.
The benefits of these two simple beginner techniques can provide more to your pregnancy than imaginable. At The Bloom Method, we’re revolutionizing pre & postnatal fitness by teaching simple, smart, and effective techniques that will add to your strength and athleticism for life, allowing your pregnancy to shine in the midst of it all.