This is an excerpt from Pregnancy Fitness by Julia Di Paolo,Samantha Montpetit-Huynh & Kim Vopni.
Focus and Benefits
The core breath is the ultimate foundational exercise. It trains the Core 4 to work as they should with synergy between the diaphragm, pelvic floor, deep abdominals, and multifidus. The core breath is done not only on its own but also while performing other exercises to really bring awareness of the inner core unit into movement. You will do the core breath regularly throughout pregnancy; it is also the very first restorative exercise you will do postpartum.
- Sit on a stability ball with a neutral pelvis (this can also be done lying on your side or on your back).
- Put one hand on the side of your ribs and the other hand on your belly.
- Breathe into your hands. Inhale to expand - feel the rib cage expand, feel the pelvic floor expand (you may feel fullness in your perineum), and feel the abdomen expand outward.
- Exhale through pursed lips and voluntarily contract your pelvic floor using imagery to engage. For example, imagine picking up a blueberry with your vagina and anus or imagine sucking a milkshake through a straw with your vagina, or imagine lifting your perineum up toward the crown of your head.
- Inhale to expand again and let the pelvic floor contraction subside (imagine letting go of the blueberry).
- Repeat for 10 to 30 breath cycles.
- Apply the Inhale to Expand, Exhale to Engage practice, as we learned in chapter 4, to any movement to ensure your core is active and ready. Experiment with different cues and remember to use a cue every time you exhale to engage. It turns almost any exercise into a core exercise!
Do the core breath three times per day for one to two minutes each time to maintain optimal core function and to really get the coordination of this exercise imprinted in your mind. Try it with different cues and then continue with the one that is best for you. Remember the modification in the weeks before birth. Inhale to expand then exhale and keep the expansion to mimic what you will do in labor. After your baby is born, restart the regular core breath within the first few days postpartum to help increase circulation and regenerate tone, strength, and function to the Core 4. We have said it many times...you need to re-train before you train and the core breath exercise is your biggest ally! It stimulates circulation and nerve growth factor to help optimize healing in the pelvic floor. It can help recover any loss of sensation that may have resulted from labor and it helps get as much oxygen as possible into the body to help heal the tissues. The best news is that you can, and should, use this powerful exercise for life!
Try this exercise in a standing position.