Connection breath – it’s something you hear about all the time in postpartum pelvic floor exercise.
But what is it? Why does it matter? And how do you do it?
In this blog, I give you a full run-down of everything you need to know about connection breath and your pelvic floor!
The basics of connection breath
“Connection breath” is how we integrate the pelvic floor and core with our breathing pattern.
Before talking about connection breath, it’s important to understand the basic anatomy of the core and the pelvic floor. Your core is essentially made up of all the muscles that attach to your spine! Think back, abs, ribs, and pelvic girdle; the pelvic floor forms the base of your core!
Not only can a strong core reduce lower back pain and help prevent injury, but it can also help with posture, balance and stability, and control over urination and bowel movements.
The pelvic floor
The pelvic floor refers to a group of about 26 muscles that sit like a hammock at the base of the pelvis. The pelvic floor helps support your pelvic and abdominal organs, and helps control urination and bowel movements. When pelvic muscles are weak, that can lead to feeling like you need to pee all the time, urinary or fecal leaks, organ prolapse, and pain during sex.
Why connection breath matters
Connecting with the breath is a great way to connect the core and the pelvic floor so they function as a unit. This can be done throughout pregnancy and will help with labour, or it can be learned postpartum to help the core and floor work together again.
It is very important for pregnancy and postpartum recovery to focus on connection breath. A lot of pelvic floor dysfunctions can arise because there is too much tension there. Think of it like a handshake. You don’t want a sloppy shake, but you also don’t want a death grip. You want to be able to control the shake, applying appropriate tension for any given situation. Connection breath is a breathing technique that can help increase your core and floor control, so you can have more or less tension as needed.
Why learn connection breath? Why not just use kegel exercises?
Kegels focus on squeezing the pelvic floor muscles, but not on gaining control. The problem is that just squeezing muscles doesn’t necessarily lead to increased muscle tone. Because of this, kegels don’t lead to faster recovery. In fact, kegels often just tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
Having super tight pelvic muscles may even be a hindrance during delivery. It’s essential to know how to contract these muscles, but also to relax them. Kegel exercises don’t offer the ability to relax the muscles fully and completely. But that is something connection breath can help with!
Your core and pelvic floor work together to prevent injury
By strengthening your core, floor, and the communication between the two, connection breath can also help address the common issues of urinary leaks and can help prevent or limit injuries and back pain. Best of all, you can continue connection breath for years to come as a way to keep your body centered and relaxed. And we all know, as a mom, you’ll have lots of moments when it would benefit you to be able to ground yourself with a few quick breaths!
How to engage in connection breath
Start by sitting on a relatively hard surface. Spread the fleshy part of your bum apart so you can feel the soft part of the perineum against the surface. This will provide you with feedback during the breathing technique.
Place one hand on your rib cage and one hand on your belly. Begin by inhaling deep into the belly so you can feel everything expand under your hands. Relax your pelvic floor as you inhale. As you exhale and feel your belly deflate, you want to feel tension increase in the pelvic floor and gently lift the pelvic floor muscles as you would with a kegel. This pelvic floor contraction should only feel like a 3 out of 10. This teaches your body how to contract and relax the pelvic muscles.
If connection breath is hard at the beginning, don’t worry. Practice really does make perfect in this case! Take a bit of time several times per day to go through the connection breath technique. As you get better at connection breath, you will be able to use the breathing technique anytime, anywhere.
Want to learn more about how connection breath came to be and why I feel it is so important? You can learn more about my background and what led me to this work here!