Often times we are asked if there is anything you can do to help prevent Diastasis Recti and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction while pregnant.
Some of the things that are really important are to really make sure that you have a really good alignment, especially during pregnancy, because the baby is so heavy, your breasts get heavy, it’s really easy to want to hunch forward, but think about it, when you hunch forward, you’re pushing a lot of pressure downward, which isn’t strengthening and making your core work functionally as a whole. Same with breathing.
So what we focus on are deep core exercises, where especially in pregnancy, so sometimes it can be hard to visualize, but you want to sit on the edge of your chair so your sit bones are hitting the chair. And then what I focus on is making sure that you’re activating all four areas of your core, breathing in, and then contracting the muscles of your pelvic floor.
If we can prevent issues, it’s such a better experience than having to fix things down the line, so doing some exercises that are a strong contraction, a pelvic floor contraction, which would look a lot like a pelvic floor lift, as opposed to just like a vaginal contraction, like we tend to think about, we think, “Okay, contract your vagina,” as opposed to lifting the pelvic floor.
I think sometimes as women, we’re afraid to actually see how our muscles work, so don’t be afraid to touch your core to really feel your muscles engaging with the pelvic floor, too. It’s not a sexual or inappropriate thing. We just want to make sure that the muscles that we want to contract are actually contracting so feel free to feel it and make sure that we’re using that muscle lift as opposed to just a vaginal contraction like we used to think about.
Now another thing is sometimes we think more is better. Should I be contracting my core or my pelvic floor all day long? We know that that’s actually not ideal. We wouldn’t carry around a weight in our hands to work on our bicep curls all day long. It’s really better when we work on an exercise and then rest and relax and get those muscles time to repair because that’s how they build strength and how they build support so that we have that supported pelvic floor to avoid issues down the line. Now we can’t avoid everything, but we can give ourselves the best chance as possible to really help eliminate extra issues.
The last thing I tried to do at the end of pregnancy, really avoid high impact activity, so things like jumping, box jumps, which I wouldn’t do box jumps pregnant anyway because I’m so clumsy, even running. Depending on the strength of your pelvic floor, I didn’t think running used to be high impact but think about it. Every single time you take a step, the weight of that baby is pushing down on your pelvic floor. So I suggest, especially like the end of the second and the third trimester, to really eliminate any high impact activities, because that will help your recovery afterward.
And trust me, when I was pregnant, I would have heard that advice and thought, I don’t want to stop running, but remember, it’s a short phase of life, even though it doesn’t feel like it when you’re pregnant, right, and if you can do these things now, it can help you a lot later.
P.S. If you are looking for a program to help you during your pregnancy, you can check out my Baby Bump Trainer HERE. And, for more information on our Abs, Core and Pelvic Floor program you can check it out HERE.
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