Postpartum Care – Breathing is Important!

Once I told a patient that she was “breathing wrongly”. Her response was: “breathing also can be wrong ar???”. 

This isn’t me telling you that your breathing pattern is wrong, BUT breathing mindfully and using the correct pathways definitely makes a difference in our bodies. This is especially true in postpartum mums because our body changes drastically after pregnancy and birth. 

5 common changes to a woman’s body from pregnancy:
  1. Abdominal muscles – becomes thinner and weaker postpartum 
  2. Breathing patterns – shallower breathing due to baby’s weight and pressure on the diaphragm
  3. Posture – rapid changes in body’s centre of gravity
  4. Pressure – stretched out and weakened abs, especially without baby to stabilise spine
  5. Postnatal depletion – nutritionally, hormonally, emotionally

When we neglect breathing well, we might face issues with:

  • Stress/anxiety (feeling unable to relax)
  • Shallow breathing (difficulty taking deep breaths)
  • Delay in diastasis recti recovery
  • Poor posture
  • Incontinence (due to weakened or overly tight pelvic floor muscles)

As you can see, everything somehow links and relates to each other. To make it less overwhelming, we can summarise our understanding of breathing by looking at our body’s ‘canister’. This is the shape our diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles make when they work together in breathing.

What our ‘canister’ looks like

Optimally, what you want to see in your body’s canister is a 360-degree expansion in the front, back, sides, and (a little) in the chest when you inhale. When our canister functions optimally, it improves our core activation and reduces our risk of back injuries/aches. It helps to regulate our nerve supply and breathing patterns too! 

What can I do to improve my body’s ‘canister’? Here are a few easy ways!
  • Focus on breathing through our nose
  • Focus on 360-degree expansion instead of belly breathing (especially bad for postpartum mums who have weakened abdominal muscles after delivery)
  • Back body expansion exercise
  • Side-lying breathing exercise
  • 90-90 breathing exercise

If you’ve tried these methods, but still somehow feel that something isn’t right with your posture and breathing patterns postpartum – seek the help of a prenatal/postpartum professional! This would be through Prenatal Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Pelvic Floor Therapist, Pilates, Yoga, or many more.

If you’re looking to try out some body and breath relaxation techniques, Welo Chiro KL has weekly Prenatal Yoga classes, every Saturday at 3-4pm. Contact us at 010-5526038 to get a slot!