Everyone talks about “breathing exercises,” but what does that even mean?
Breathing exercises are super important for your postpartum recovery, and are important to practice during your pregnancy as well! Everyone calls it something slightly different, but if you’ve ever heard the term “connection breath,” “belly breathing,” “TVA breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing” or any other variation, they’re all the same thing.
I like to call it the connection breath, so that’s the term you’ll see used here!
In this blog post I’ll break down:
how to perform the connection breath
what proper breathing does for us
who should be practicing this technique
and when to actually use breathing exercises
HOW it works:
On the inhale, your belly inflates. Breath into your rib cage, lats and belly all at the same time.
On the exhale, your belly deflates, the deep core engages, and your pelvic floor lifts.
No need to make it any more complicated than that!
WHAT the connection breath does for us:
Think about what happens when you cough.
Or get punched in the stomach (which is hopefully never, but just use your imagination).
Your deep core engages and your pelvic floor lifts automatically. These muscle groups do this to protect your organs, stabilize your body and to keep you from peeing, among lots of other important things.
The problem is that the pressure put on our core & pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy matched with the stretching it goes through during birth disconnects this automatic functionality. The core & pelvic floor aren’t firing like they used to and you have to actually think about engaging those muscles for them to function like new again.
What proper breathing does is reconnect your brain with your pelvic floor & core in a conscious manner so that over time these muscles will automatically activate during your daily activities.
At the same time we build back that mental connection, we also regain strength, muscle definition and function in our deep core and pelvic floor muscles.
As you can see, the connection breath is very important not just for exercise and lifting purposes, but for daily quality of life functions as well!
WHO should practice the connection breath?
Both pregnant and postpartum women should practice the connection breath!
During pregnancy, this breathing technique will help you maintain a strong connection, mentally and physically, with your core and pelvic floor.
Performing the connection breath during your lifts will help manage pressure placed on the core and pelvic floor. Additionally, performing the connection breath on its own (laying, sitting or standing) will help build control of the pelvic floor muscles for birth!
Although super important during pregnancy, you’ll more often see breathing exercises used during your postpartum recovery, and for good reason.
Once your baby is delivered, it will probably feel as if your belly “popped.” In general terms, there is no longer any internal tension created within your deep core muscles (which are extremely stretched out at this point), which creates a lack of strength and tension in your midsection.
This is why you most likely will feel unstable, weak and unable to walk or perform every day activities for a few days/weeks following birth!
The connection breath is the FIRST thing you should start doing when it comes to your postpartum recovery. It helps build back that tension and functionality in your core and pelvic floor so you can get back to basic life tasks.
WHEN should you practice breathing exercises?
Now that you know that the connection breath is important in both pregnancy and postpartum, lets talk about when you should be doing this technique!
- During any lifts. Breathe in on the easy part of the movement, breathe out on the hard or “work” part of the movement.
- Although you should start working on the connection breath as soon as you learn about it, it will be even more important to work on it in an isolated manner often in the third trimester! I’d recommend spending 2-3 minutes 2-3 times per day on just the connection breath in a laying, seated or standing position.
- For most uncomplicated births without contraindications, you can start the connection breath as early as in the hospital if you’re feeling up for it! Take your severity of tearing, labor & delivery experience, and overall general feelings post-birth into consideration first.
- We start with the connection breath as our first “exercise” post-birth so you can be comfortable with it before using it during movement and full workouts! Every rep you perform of ANY movement in the first weeks should be accompanied by the connection breath. This forces you to take things slow, connect with your body, and properly recover your muscles for long term core & pelvic floor health.
The connection breath is one of those staple movements during pregnancy and postpartum that cannot be skipped. It’s the glue that holds everything together!
To get full pregnancy and postpartum programming that includes the connection breath and all other core and pelvic floor exercises, checkout my FIGR:Pregnancy and FIGR:Postpartum programs! Subscribing will take all the mental stress of programming your own workouts off of you so you can feel confident in the gym during these phases of life.
I got you,