Core Weakness During Pregnancy
Core weakness and it’s consequences contribute to many complications in pregnancy, labor, delivery and birth recovery. Understanding the physical demands of motherhood is the first step in preparation. The Tummy Team
works with moms before and after delivery to be strong for motherhood!
Understanding Diastasis Recti
There is a group of muscles that encircle the core (that area between your pelvis and your rib cage) that are primarily responsible for holding you up. The main muscle in this group – the transverse abdominis – is the only muscle in the body that wraps completely around the body to have a front, back, right and left aspect all in one. It is a natural corset. The function of this muscle (and other core muscles) is to hold you up. It elongates the abdomen between the pelvis and rib cage like a pulled slinky. When this muscle is strong and active, it is your major postural muscle, holds your organs up and in, and provides stability for your spine.
Diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal wall due to consistent forward and forceful pressure. It is especially common in prenatal women because the growing uterus puts pressure on the abdominal wall. This combined with relaxin and other hormones create an increased laxity in the connective tissue of your abdominals, the linea alba. Additionally, chronically collapsed and inactive core muscles of most women prior to pregnancy help set a perfect stage for the abdominal wall to stretch and separate, leading to chronic problems.
When you are pregnant, those core muscles are intended to support the uterus and promote optimal position for the baby. As pregnancy progresses, the demands on the core muscles inevitably increase. A poorly supported baby and uterus will tend to tilt forward and create more outward pressure on the connective tissue as it grows and becomes heavy. If these muscles are already weak and not being strengthened, the result can affect the overall fetal alignment.
Understanding Optimal Fetal Alignment
When your core is strong and working as intended to support the growing uterus, it places your baby in optimal alignment – head down and aligned vertically with the cervix and birth canal. This position places the least amount of unbalanced stress on moms body during pregnancy, alleviating common pain symptoms. But optimal fetal alignment also sets the stage to place effective pressure on the cervix to stimulate and intensify contractions, therefore steadily progressing labor. In addition, optimal fetal alignment creates a more direct path down the birth canal and places the core muscles in the strongest position to support the uterus during labor. A strong core during pregnancy creates less pain for mom, less stress during labor and reduces the chance of diastasis recti.
Poor fetal alignment impacts the mother by creating added stress on the lower back, upper back, abdominals, hips and pelvic floor, all of which can create pain and dysfunction during pregnancy. When the baby is tilted forward instead of aligned vertically, contractions can be ineffective and labor can stall. Due to this fetal alignment, the baby needs to be pushed around a corner instead of straight down the vaginal canal. This can create a lengthy and ineffective pushing phase that includes holding the breath, curling the body and bearing down, creating even more pressure on the abdominal wall and pelvic floor. Additionally, this kind of straining and breath holding withholds oxygen from mom and baby during labor. Prolonged and difficult labor and delivery can result in an unnecessary increased risk of distress to the baby, perineal tearing, postpartum prolapse and urinary incontinence, and even more severe diastasis recti.
Understanding Birth Recovery
Childbirth is the most challenging athletic event most women will ever experience in their life. While many moms prepare for labor, not many moms prepare for their own birth recovery. But there is no intermission between birth and full time motherhood so now is the best time to restore your core. Newborn care requires constant parenting postures including holding the baby, nursing, changing diapers, carrying baby carriers and so much more. If we do little to prepare the body for the immediate physical tests of motherhood, we often suffer from a postpartum recovery that is dominated by low back and mid back pain, hip and pelvis instability, pelvic floor weakness, lack of energy and depression. Preparing your body physically for the demands of childbirth is the essential component to not only empower your pregnancy and childbirth experience, but set you up for a quick birth recovery so you can handle the demands of motherhood.
The Tummy Team Can Help!
We offer on site and online classes to rehabilitate your core muscles during pregnancy to make a better labor, birth and recovery experience.