The Philosophy of Abs Work in Pregnancy
Popular literature used to say that you should never exercise your abdominal muscles during pregnancy because of a fear that it would harm your pregnancy or your baby. Today, we realize that these muscles are so important for pregnancy and beyond that we have had to rethink our teachings about abdominal exercise in pregnancy. The consensus is now that while it is safe to exercise your abdominal muscles during pregnancy, certain precautions must be taken.
Why the Abs Matter in Birth and Beyond
You might wonder why we bother talking about abdominal muscles during pregnancy if the benefits can't be seen or, supposedly, used during pregnancy. The point of exercising these muscles is that they will be used on a daily basis. Poor muscle tone in this area can lead to increased pregnancy complaints.
Back pain is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy. The surprising fact is that much of your back pain can have to do with your abdominal muscles. How strong and toned your abs are will dictate how well your back is supported. This is not to say that abs work is all you need to prevent back pain. Having an imbalance of either set of your muscles will cause you pain.
You know that your abdominal muscles support your internal organs, and this is true of the uterus as well. Your abdominal muscles will be busy at work during your labor, supporting your uterus as it contracts to open your cervix. By knowing these muscles well, you can help to keep them relaxed. This will help your baby enter your pelvis in a timely and efficient fashion, and therefore actually help speed labor along.
If you are asked not to push for any reason during this second stage of labor, lift your chin from your chest and look upward. Begin to breathe lightly, as if imagining a feather is floating above your face. Breathe as if to keep that feather from falling to you. This will disengage your abdominal muscles and reduce the amount of pressure on the baby.
The position you choose in labor will help or hinder your process. By assuming upright positions you will help your baby enter the pelvis and apply more pressure on the cervix to help it dilate. Once you begin pushing, this upright position will allow you to use gravity to help you push your baby into the world as your body is aligned properly.
Once your cervix is fully dilated, you will begin to have the urge to push or bear down. It is during this portion of labor, known as the second stage of labor, that you will push your baby into the world. When you actively begin pushing, you will use your abdominals and your breathing, which is deeply related to your abdominal muscles, to help urge your baby into the world.