By Effie Koustas, MSPT
You’ve heard it before, but holding your breath, or “Valsalva” maneuver, is frowned upon, especially postpartum. Although it is not uncommon to hold your breath naturally throughout the day, it is especially common when you learn a new activity. What most people don’t realize is that it puts pressure on your pelvic floor. Because of the weakness and loss of stability that develops as your core muscles are stretched out during the course of your pregnancy, you may try to make up for it by holding your breath and bracing your abdominal muscles. This can give you a false sense of feeling stronger and should be avoided.
Proper breathing is key in helping to prevent the unintended consequences associated with the added pressure on the pelvic floor as a result of holding your breath and is a main focus in Physical Therapy. A little trick that we recommend is to exhale or count out loud as you exercise.