By Joie Goh

We’re talking about pelvic floor breathing, of course.

The pelvic floor muscles are a series of muscles that form the base of the core muscles. They are located just under the lower abdominals, and extends from the tailbone to the pubic bone. “Think of these muscles as a hammock that supports all your internal organs,” explains Linda, co-founder of WeBarre who also leads WeBarre Prenatal and WeBarre Mums & Bubs classes.

While some sources say that to locate and train your pelvic floor muscles, you just need to stop your pee midstream by clenching your nether regions and holding it in, it’s actually not as simple as that. “There is more to pelvic floor training than just squeezing or clenching,” Linda says. “We don’t want to force a grip – what we want is to draw in, and lift.”

Instead, what she advocates for is a more controlled form of isolation called pelvic floor breathing. Done at a slower and more intentional pace, this move can be done by anyone and at any time.

First, lie or sit in a comfortable position. Standing is also permissible, but lying down may be the easiest way as the rest of your body is naturally relaxed. As you inhale deeply, relax all your muscles in preparation for the move.

“I like to use the imagery of tissue paper,” says Linda. “As you exhale slowly, imagine you are trying to pull out a piece of tissue from a tissue-box using your pelvic floor muscles – light and effortless. Inhale and relax completely again, and exhale to repeat the drawing-in motion.”

Strengthens Internally

“The pelvic floor muscles support both the weight of your internal organs and that of your growing baby,” says Linda. As the little bun in the oven gets bigger and heavier, so does the pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. By making pelvic floor breathing a regular daily practice starting from the early stages of your pregnancy, it strengthens those muscles and help support the weight of your growing baby.

“A healthy pelvic floor also mean that you have better control over those muscles when you give birth,” Linda adds. “Hopefully that can help ease the delivery process too, which is what a lot of our prenatal clients have told us!”

Faster Recovery

study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that vaginal delivery caused partial loss of nerve supply of the pelvic floor in the majority of its participants. This means that the state of post-pregnancy pelvic floor muscles is very different from pre-pregnancy, and is one of the key reasons why rest and recovery is so important immediately following birth. You can’t simply join a HIIT class the day after giving birth (even if you’re still experiencing that adrenaline rush of motherhood!) because a weakened pelvic floor might cause involuntary bladder-related incidents if over-exerted.

However, stronger pelvic floor muscles translate to a quicker recovery period post-delivery, and a reduced risk of incontinence. Women who have made prenatal barre classes a regular habit during their pregnancy, and thus have built a stronger foundation, generally find that they are able to return to exercising much earlier. In one case, a WeBarre Prenatal instructor was able to resume her workouts just 4 weeks after giving birth!

Better Intimacy

There’s also a benefit of pelvic floor breathing that extends beyond pregnancy and delivery – better sexy times! The reason is threefold; first, increased strength and awareness of the pelvic floor muscles lead to improved sensations. Enhanced blood circulation to the area also increases arousal. Finally, it reduces the chance of pelvic pain for those who are prone to it.

“The idea of pelvic floor breathing and other pelvic floor exercise is to increase the control you have over your muscles,” says Linda. However, better control doesn’t just have to be for pregnancy or giving birth.

“It can also mean better control during intimate times, which means heightened stimulation overall – who doesn’t want that?” Linda chuckles as she tells me.

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