The ONE thing that will keep you strong throughout pregnancy and beyond

Updated: Aug 26

Regardless of your stage of pregnancy, there is something you can be doing that is so simple and so effective in helping you build the strongest possible foundation, not just to support your body as your baby grows but also to support you through delivery and help you to come back to exercise once your little one is here. It’s something that requires minimal space, time and energy and can be done every single day and I'm excited to share it with you!

Before we get into it, I wanted to give you a little bit of context on what it’s all about and why it’s so beneficial for you to build into your daily routine.

Your core muscles (including your pelvic floor) are essentially the glue that holds your body together from a movement perspective - they’re absolutely vital for everyday function. It’s these muscle that go through the biggest degree of change while your baby is growing so we want to make sure we’re keeping them strong despite those changes and keep our bodies moving in a way that feels great.

There are 2 things that can help with this; 1) 360 degree, diaphragmatic breathing and 2) great core engagement.

Here’s a little breakdown of what each of these things means;

  1. 360 degree, diaphragmatic breathing.

It sounds a little complicated but it’s essentially just about inhaling in a deeper breathing pattern that allows your lungs & ribs to expand (rather than your chest).

When you do this, you should get a ‘360 degree’ expansion of the ribs to the front, the sides and the back. Your diaphragm will contract and moves downwards towards your pelvis and that’s why the diaphragm is also noted in the description.

Why is this breathing technique so important during pregnancy?

If we inhale in a 360 degree, diaphragmatic way then there is a natural connection between our diaphragm, our pelvic floor and our abdominal muscles. We want to maintain this during pregnancy but with a growing bubba, that can be hard without some focused work.

Have a wee look at the changes that happen internally during pregnancy below. I can easily imagine taking fabulous deep breaths in the picture on the left but with all that upwards compression on the right, I’d naturally lean towards shallower breaths that are held within my chest.

Intentionally focusing on maintaining our 360 degree, diaphragmatic breathing technique will keep our ribs mobile (i.e. expanding to the front, sides and back despite the reduced space from the growing bubba!) and help us continue to breathe in a way that promotes that natural core function that we want to maintain.

Your chances of developing issues like prolonged and more severe diastasis recti, leaking urine when you run / jump / sneeze / laugh or even pelvic organ prolapse can be reduced purely by practising 360 diaphragmatic breathing during your pregnancy - well worth it!

This way of breathing is also really beneficial as it’s a meditative and restorative practice which is amazing for helping to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and helping you release any physical tension you might be holding in your body. This is something that will be really useful to keep you calm and relaxed throughout your pregnancy and during labour and will also be amazing to give you a bit of headspace while navigating life with a newborn!

2. Great core engagement.

If 360 degree, diaphragmatic breathing is all about what happens when you inhale, then great core engagement is all about what happens when you exhale.

Imagine you were building a house and the foundation of that house is your pelvic floor. Only when we start from the foundation can we begin to build the other levels, which you can think of as 3 levels within your core - your lower, mid and upper abdominals. To build a great house we’d ALWAYS need to start with that foundational level and build upwards from there. It’s exactly the same every time you engage your core. We always have to start from our foundational, pelvic floor level and then engage upwards through all levels of your abdominals for the strongest possible core function to support everyday movement.

360 degree, diaphragmatic breathing takes you to the bottom of the house (your pelvic floor) every time you inhale, and allows you to build upwards from that foundation, engaging every level of your abdominals when you exhale.

Why is engaging your core in this way so important during pregnancy?

We rely on our core to support our spine and pelvis every single day which is a lot of pressure for a group of muscles that are also having to change and adapt to make space for a growing baby! Without some focused work, we can end up managing pressure badly within our core when we perform everyday movements that require core engagement. This means we can be sending a lot of pressure towards the front of our tummy and down towards our pelvic floor - 2 areas that have to do the most amount of stretching and are therefore already quite vulnerable during pregnancy. Our aim is to control pressure within our core as best we can via great core engagement to avoid this happening. This will be so beneficial for everyday movements but will also keep you exercising in a way that feels great throughout your pregnancy and help you to come back to it once your little one has arrived.

You’ll find a video below which puts all of this into context alongside a 10 minute workout where you can practice your breathing and core engagement.

Click here for the one thing you can do keep you strong throughout pregnancy and beyond.

This technique is the foundation of our Bump & Beyond Movement Series which is all about supporting you to move in a way that feels great throughout your pregnancy and into motherhood. You can discover the full collection here.

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