Are you pregnant or planning on getting pregnant soon? Congratulations! You are now officially allowed to eat as much ice cream as you want without anyone judging you. However, with great baby comes great responsibility - especially when it comes to taking care of your body during pregnancy.
Pregnancy can do incredible things to the female body – stretch marks, cellulite, morning sickness… and that’s just the beginning! Your core muscles also go through some changes during those nine months. No matter how fit and toned you were before being pregnant, maintaining a strong core becomes trickier for most women after conception.
What is “the Core”?
The word 'core' has been thrown around so much in recent years that even oranges might feel slighted by how overused it is. So what exactly do we mean by "core"?
The core is not just the six-pack abs everybody dreams of having but never will (sorry). According to Harvard Health Publishing's online medical magazine ‘Harvard Women's Health Watch’, your core consists of muscles deep inside the belly which wrap around the spine and help keep your posture upright.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Core Muscles?
Now that we have established what constitutes as "the Core," let us delve into how pregnancy affects this important set of muscles:
1) Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti sounds like a Harry Potter spell but it refers to separation between two sides of abdominal muscle columns.. As more pressure builds up against them from within our uterus they end up separating in order to make room for your baby delivery channel.Typically this happenings proportionally late compared normal stress.(Source required).
2) Hormonal Changes
Hormones have a crucial role ensuring successful delivery but they tends affect joint flexibility(provides better space for expansion) .While Pregnant, you may experience an increase in Relaxin hormone which among other things provides support to the uterus by relaxing pelvic muscles and ligaments. But this same hormone also affects connective tissue overstretching.Also contributing more laxity in abdominal region making core stability hard.
3) Weight Gain
We're not talking about losing five pounds before bikini season; we mean putting on some much-needed baby weight so your little one has enough padding to survive life outside of your cozy womb. However, extra belly fat makes supporting a healthy core difficult with more pressure concentrated on the central abdomen leading to possible muscle strain and creating lower back pain.
The Negative Impacts Of Weak Core Muscles During Pregnancy:
So why does it matter if you have a strong core OR NOT during pregnancy? As soon as women conceive they start going through body changes until delivery where many hormonal pathways will hinder normal appetite mechanism.As discussed earlier pregnanacy play major role affecting muscle function below are negativities that can result from weakening or neglected 'core' muscles (Source Required)
A) Heightened Discomfort Levels
The developing pressure along midline due constant growth can cause Pelvic instability in pregnant women leading towards additional stress painful conditions like Occipital Neuralgia or Symphysis pubis dysfunction(SP). Although mild/moderate relaxation related pains considered expected , these symptoms go OFF-LIMITS when associated with failure preventing adequate physical activity- primarily doable workouts.(source(s) required).
B) Painful Labor
Although labor is known for being painful already without any added complications.Depending mostly upon each woman's unique anatomy, pelvic floor stimulation during labor merits addressing strengthening surgical options to aid fetal-push interface.This procedure usually includes insertion exercises/off loaders.. could facilitate reducing active phase duration thus improving outcomes management .
C) Less optimal birth delivery results
Weak abdominal control following childbirth produce resulting low-back-pain lasting mainly from back spasms tiredness. Weak or unconditioned 'core stability' and pelvic muscles could also be attributed directly posture thereby leading urinary incontinence during delivery (source required).
The Benefits of Working on Your Core During Pregnancy
Gaining, maintaining adequate levels/core strength will help tackle obstetric problems that happen during/after pregnancy.As per latest studies research advantages achieving good core health include:
A) Control Over Prenatal Weight Gain
A controlled weight gain throughout your pregnancy improves the chances of a complication-free labour and birth.
B) Better Posture, Less Back Pain
Patients suffering from lower back pain due to stretch marks might find some relief by improving core expression through strengthening in tandem with mild-moderate physical activity.( Sources Required)
C) Improved Delivery ‘Fitness’
One necessary conditioning procedure for CFM pregnant women is Pelvic-floor exercises alongside 'Core Stability’ training.This should aim at healthy muscle engagement control providing muscular fitness even as baby grows often helping shorten duration labor speed up recovery time following delivery.
So what can you do achieve stronger abdomen?
Working out does not have to mean going into Crossfit mode necessarily if it is safe.Goat Yoga? Possible but unlikely.Talking to specialized community than reddit subthreads/ whisper threads might prove helpful...However devising a simple individualized plan ensuring weekly workouts dedicated solely towards this important area much like any regular muscle group session would be sufficient. Following are few ways that works: - Squats(upon suggestion of medical professional mostly gynaecologist) - Planks(safe depending level abdominal contraction being maintained). - Birthing ball activation(executing abs related movements sitting over stability balls).These types of activities help naturally strengthen abdominals constituting integral parts/balancing legs buttocks. ` Good luck mama! Don’t forget - You're doing amazing work accommodating an entire human inside you.It's okay indulging ice cream pints that may/may keep your heart content without the fear of being judged!.Also no celebrity snap-back-in-a-month dreams will be achieved(don’t worry - none really exist) but with appropriate dedication and medical guidance, you can work on strengthening those muscles even after giving birth.
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