A long time ago, breathing wasn’t even a conversation in the pelvic floor therapy game. Aside from relaxation breathing or the valsalva maneuver used in heavy lifting, we didn’t have conversations about any type of breathing in between.
We talk about breath in yoga, sometimes pilates. All of these breath cues are different and none of them are wrong!
Now, when we talk about breath and the postpartum pelvic floor, which of these is right?
Well, (and here comes everyone’s favorite answer), IT DEPENDS!
I use real-time ultrasound to look at the pelvic floor muscles and how they respond to different types of breathing. We can figure out what works for different people in different situations.
And sometimes, I can even tap into breath patterns from childhood. Did your patient play a wind instrument? Have them recall the mouth position they used for the flute or clarinet! Their body remembers!
Ask them if they sing! Where did they find that breath? That transfers over!
The third is what are you doing and what do you actually need? We can’t go around telling people they are breathing wrong because we don’t know their experience with breath. You might be treating a yogi who can get just as much activation on an inhale as an exhale.
We need context. What do they know? What experience do they have? What has worked in the past?
It’s my job to be an investigator. Real-time ultrasound allows me to give a cue and directly watch how the muscles respond to that cue.
With breath, we have to figure out what each person needs.
For those of you working with women, ask a few questions first to learn what they’ve been taught, what they’ve been using, anad what’s worked in the past.
If the breath strategy they’re using isn;t what you want to give them, BUT what they’re using isn’t causing problems, then DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.
Focus on the changes you can make that will actually improve symptoms for your patient.
Where looking to find the breath that works for that person at that time. End of story.
Moms, were you ever told that your breath was wrong?
Pros, have you ever told anyone their breath was wrong?