Get ready for labor and prevent incontinence down the road with these essential prenatal exercises.
4 SQUAT COMBO Hold an immovable object, feet wider than hip width [A]. Lower into a deep squat, weight in heels [B]. If heels do not touch the floor, place a towel under them. Do a Kegel and hold, counting out loud to 10. Slowly release and draw your abs in as you exhale. Remaining in squat, repeat combo 5 times, then sit down and rest. Strengthens legs, abs and pelvic-floor muscles.
To do a Kegel (note: you don’t have to be seated), squeeze and hold the muscles around the vagina as if you are stopping the flow of urine; hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release. Do 20 10-second holds 5 times a day.
What is a diastasis?
Diastasis is a separation of the outer rectus abdominis muscle that often occurs during pregnancy. You can check for it before or after you give birth: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your
fingertips horizontally 2 inches above or below your navel. Exhale as you slowly lift just your head [right]. Press gently and feel for a separation the width of three fingers or more and a soft area in the middle; that’s a diastasis. After checking, roll to one side and use your arms to push yourself up to a seated position. Safety note: If you feel dizzy, roll to one side. Do not remain in the back-lying position for more than 10 seconds. If you have a diastasis: Avoid doing twisting exercises and remember to draw your navel toward your spine before getting up or down from a seated position or lifting objects. Also try splinting, which can keep the separation from getting larger
[Preparing for labor]
The transversus abdominis, or transverse, is the
innermost abdominal muscle, and it encircles your
trunk like a corset. The action of this muscle
is forward and backward, which compresses the
abdominal cavity. 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. During the pushing phase of labor, you ideally will work the transverse and the pelvic-floor muscles separately, drawing in the transverse and relaxing
the pelvic floor to let the baby out.
how to splint for a diastasis
A splint is simply a piece of cloth that can be used to help keep the two halves of the outer abdominal muscles together as you do abdominal exercises. It also can help you prevent a diastasis or avoid exacerbating an existing separation.
Take a strong scarf or piece of fabric that’s about 62 inches long and 6 to 9 inches wide (towels are too thick; splints are available at www.maternalfitness.com). Wrap the cloth flat around your lower back, holding a section of the cloth in each hand (do not make a knot). Bring your right hand across your body and pull toward your middle, resting your hand on your abdomen. Bring your left hand across to your right side. Pull gently from both sides toward the middle over your bellybutton and hold as you do any abdominal exercises.