Strengthening your transverse abdominals and pelvic floor today, will assist you in achieving an easier delivery (if your abs are weak you won’t be able to push effectively) and lower your risk of incontinence later.
This 15 minute workout will teach you how to work the abdominal and pelvic-floor muscles separately.
Why? During the pushing phase of labour you ideally draw in the deep transverse abdominals and relax the pelvic floor to let the baby out.
Sit with your legs crossed and lower back supported, hands on your belly. Keeping your back and shoulders still, slowly inhale through your nose as you expand your belly.
As you exhale through your mouth, draw in your abdominals, bringing your navel toward your spine.
Benefits: Strengthens abdominals.
Belly Dancing On All Fours
Get down on your hands and knees, wrists under shoulders and knees hip-width apart. Keeping your back flat, draw your abdominals up and in, bringing your navel toward your spine; hold, breathing normally. Tilt your pelvis under, bringing your pubic bone toward your navel. [A]
Hold and count to five. When you complete the final rep, stand up by stepping one foot forward and pushing off your thigh with both hands. [B]
Benefits: Strengthens abdominals, back and upper body.
Sit with your lower back supported, one hand on your upper belly and the other near your navel. [A]
Imagine your transverse is a horizontal elevator with six “floors.” Inhale, then exhale, drawing your abs toward your spine to the fifth floor.[B]
Hold and count out loud to 30. Do five squeezes from the fifth to the sixth floor.
Benefits: Strengthens abs, especially the transverse.
Squat combo Holding a fixed object, such as a post or a sturdy chair, stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart.[A]
Lower your body into a deep squat, keeping your weight over your heels.[B]
(If your heels do not touch the floor, place a towel under them.) Do a Kegel (see Most Important Muscles below), then draw your abs in as you exhale. Repeat combo five times.
Benefits: Strengthens abs, legs and pelvic floor.
Do these four exercises in the order shown up to three times a day, performing 10 repetitions of each move and progressing to 20 reps when you feel strong enough.
Most important muscles:
The transverse abdominus is the innermost abdominal muscle. It encircles your trunk like a corset and involuntarily contracts when you sneeze. The action of this muscle is forward and backward, which compresses the abdominal cavity, and it can help you push during labour.
The main muscle of the pelvic floor, the PC (short for pubococcygeus), lies in a figure eight around the openings of the urethra, vagina and rectum. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles, helping to prevent the urinary incontinence that’s common after childbirth. To do Kegels, squeeze the muscles around the vagina as if you are stopping the flow of urine; hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release. Try to do 20 reps five times a day.
The exercise program prescribed here is only a guide and may not help if done incorrectly or if the training program is inappropriate.