Curious why you should train your core during pregnancy? We have three very good reasons why it is an advantage to learn how to use your core muscles when you are pregnant.
What are my core muscles?
The core muscles are a system of 4 muscles in the thorax and pelvis (the diaphragm, the pelvic floor, the transversus abdominus and the multifidus). We recommend a good understanding of all of the muscles of the core cylinder. Unsure what the core actually is? Check out this post. We’ll wait.
We are often asked how to train the transversus abdominus, what we call the TA (the deep core abdominal muscle) during pregnancy. Well, the first step is to learn how to activate the muscle. During pregnancy is a great time to learn this skill. It’s also a great benefit to understand how to train the pelvic floor muscle during pregnancy.
Why Train Your Core During Pregnancy?
1. We want you to be as strong as possible heading into birth
Birth is no joke – I mean, it’s called labour for a reason. Generally, exercise during pregnancy helps with reducing the odds of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and prenatal depression (2019 guidelines). Core and pelvic floor exercises have been shown to reduce the length of labour (Chauhan et al, 2017).
2. Having a growing baby can help some women understand how to contract the deep abdominal muscle
Sometimes figuring out how to contract your deep abdominals can be a little tricky. Many people have the habit of using their rectus abdominals (the six-pack muscles) instead of their deep abdominals. But there is something about a growing uterus that can help some women connect with their TA a bit better. You’ll see an example below.
3. We want you to be as strong as possible heading into parent hood
Being a parent requires a lot of core (and other muscle) strength! Lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying…..it’s a lot of physical work. Having a strong and coordinated core cylinder helps to keep you moving and reduces injuries.
*Reminder – always check with your obstetrical care provider to be sure that you are safe to exercise.
How To Activate My Core in Pregnancy?
Remember that your core cylinder is made up of 4 muscles – the diaphragm, the pelvic floor, the TA and the multifidus. So we want to try an incorporate those muscles in core exercises. Many people have a tendency to hold their breath when they try and contract their core. This isn’t wrong, we just want you to be able to breathe and contract your core too! So give this a try!
- Inhale into the belly
- Exhale + gently lift your pelvic floor muscles + “pull baby towards spine”
It’s a lot to think about, but really good practise to learn how to contract your core cylinder. Check out this video below to show an example. Watching the baby-bump get pulled in, is a great visual for learning.
See if you can do 5 core cylinder breaths in a row!
Hopefully that helps with your core muscle activation during pregnancy! If you are still struggling, because your are having a hard time contracting the pelvic floor muscles, read here for some advice!
Interersted in learning more about how to prepare for a vaginal or cesarean birth? You can check out our online course HERE.
Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out!
Katie & Eryn
Chauhan, R., Sahu, B., Singh, N., Malviya, R., & Tiwari, P. (2017). Enhancing normal labour by adopting antenatal physiotherapy: a prospective study. International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5(8), 2673.
Mottola, M. F., Davenport, M. H., Ruchat, S. M., Davies, G. A., Poitras, V. J., Gray, C. E., … & Barakat, R. (2018). 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(21), 1339-1346.