Breathing well is central to all Pregna-Fit workouts. Every exercise has an ideal time to breathe in order to allow the abdominals, diaphragm, pelvic floor to work best together. There are optimal and suboptimal ways to breathe during workouts that can DIRECTLY impact how you breathe during labor and birth.
If you can train your body to work well during well-executed exercise routines in which it is under stress (from load, intensity, etc.), your body will be MUCH more likely to cope well with labor and birth.
Here are a few tips from Pregna-Fit:
1. Learn how to diaphragmatically breathe: if you can correctly utilize your diaphragm, breathing is your body's natural mechanism to cope with pain and stress. Inhale through the nose, and visualize "sending" the breath down to the belly & pelvic floor, while keeping the shoulders relaxed. Allow the breath to fill the belly, then gently exhale through the mouth, "deflating" the belly like a balloon.
2. "Exhale on Exertion" means to breathe out during the hardest part of an exercise. For example, as you stand up from a squat, as you push up from the bottom of a push up, as you press the weight away from you on a Pallof Press, EXhale. The exhale will allow your abdominal muscles to best support your spine, as well as correctly activate the pelvic floor muscles to cope with the load it's shouldering (that may cause intra-abdominal pressure). This is especially important during pregnancy because the pelvic floor is already excessively loaded with the extra weight.
3. If possible, perform your movements in time with your breath. For example, do a slow(er) squat (with or without weight) and inhale all the way down to the lowest part, then exhale to stand back up. If this type of slowed exercise and breathing pattern is performed mid-workout, it can really help you to control your breathing and your body when it's tired and under stress, imitating labor.
4. Finally & most importantly, practice good breathing technique in order to help you COMPLETELY relax. Relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles is often counter-intuitive to those of us who work out, but MUST happen in order to efficiently push during birth. (Contd ⬇️)