Jan 22

Breathing Exercises for Diastasis Recti

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Did you know that your breath affects your core function? And if your breathing patterns are a bit ‘up in the air’ after pregnancy it could be making your abdominal separation worse. We take around 16,000 breaths EVERY SINGLE DAY so it does make sense that how we breathe matters.

When we inhale, our breath should move through the entire canister of our torso – it should move down to the pelvic floor, into the belly and (importantly) into the whole of the ribcage for what is sometimes called a 360 breath ie we are using 360 degrees of the ribs as opposed to just the front half (and sometimes none at all!). When we are pregnant, our whole breathing pattern has to change because someone is in the way! The lack of space, possible tension around the ribcage and the fact the ribcage often shifts position entirely to make space for the baby can mean that the breath patterns become a bit dysfunctional.

When we inhale into our belly we create intra-abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure Intra-abdominal pressure is the pressure within the abdominal cavity. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) changes depending on your breath and the level of load being placed on your abdominals. When we create too much IAP for our body, it creates a feeling of ‘bulging’ ie the abdominals push outwards or the pelvic floor breaks down. Daily activities such as breathing and moving from sitting to standing create IAP so it is important to understand it, learn to control it and make sure you aren’t creating too much for your body.

When we ‘belly breathe’ all day every day, we create an excess of IAP so it is important to try and create a sense of balance within our breathing patterns to reduce the IAP we are creating. There are a few things you can do about this:

Go and see a Women’s Health Osteopath

They can manually release tension around the ribcage / abdominals / neck / shoulders anywhere else that might be restricting your breathing patterns. If you are in St Albans Jo Day at Herts Osteopathy is excellent.

Be more aware of your breathing

The first step to changing a movement pattern is awareness of it. It is virtually impossible to change what you can’t feel so just check in with your breath every day and see what you notice.

Look at your posture

It is very difficult to breath optimally when your posture is getting in the way. When everything is stacked in alignment, it allows you to breathe into the ribcage as you should do. Poor posture can have a huge impact on the breath. Try rounding forwards and then take a deep breath into your whole diaphragm. It’s basically impossible right?! If you sit/stand up straighter and align your head over your ribcage and your ribcage over your pelvis you will be able to get a much fuller breath.

Consider your stress levels

Becoming a parent is wonderful but also very stressful for many people. The lack of sleep alone can be enough to cause high levels of stress. Stress and anxiety have an impact on your breathing patterns and poor breathing mechanics can increase your levels of stress and anxiety so it is a vicious circle. Look at what you can do to reduce your stress levels, whether it is to get a cleaner, start a daily breathing or meditation practice or go to bed earlier.

Mobilise your ribcage

By stretching and releasing the ribcage it will allow your breath to flow more easily into the area and also help to raise your awareness of your breathing patterns. These exercises are taken from our Your Core Matters course for pelvic floor health and they are suitable to do during pregnancy, in the early postnatal phase and way beyond to help reestablish your breathing patterns.

Make sure you have a doctors permission to exercise before doing any online exercise videos. With all of our online programmes we fully screen you before you join. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good and contact us with any questions.


You may be interested in our Mum and Baby classes, Postnatal Plus classes or our blog post on all you need to know about Diastasis Recti.

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