How strong are you? This question seems a bit vague. In our prejudiced society, a man’s strength is judged by his physicality whereas mental strength is generally attributed to women. It is because of the common misconception that women are a physically weak gender. However, women have been steadily overcoming such prejudices. Shattering myths have become an order of the day for us, more so with those related to pregnancy and motherhood.
I came across one such jaw-dropping video on the social media platform, Instagram. No, it wasn’t about a delicious recipe or some synchronized dance stunt. But I’m pretty sure that this video will literally knock you off your socks! Just like it did to me. What we see in the video is a heavily pregnant woman, who takes a slow, deep breath, and gradually sucks in the entire baby bump of hers! Sounds incredible, doesn’t it?
This mind-blowing technique is known as The Bloom Method, developed by its founder, Brooke Cates, who lives in Boulder, Colorado. This exercise program focuses on abdominal strength and pelvic health. 35-year-old Brooke is a CPT, CES, HHC, CRS Pregnancy and Post Birth Exercise specialist. She started her company around five years ago when she found a lot of pregnant women being unhappy with their bodies or simply expressing regret that pregnancy was forever going to change them. At that point, she felt there was a desperate need to take away the negativity around the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life – pregnancy. When a woman can bring in new life into this world, why should she feel unhappy about anything even remotely associated with it? This made Brooke look around for its root cause. Her earnest search bore fruit. She found that the reason most pregnant women ended up with physical and emotional suffering was due to the incorrect advice from doctors to slow down during pregnancy.
In contrast, based on her findings, Brooke refers to labor as “The Birth Marathon”. She found that, on an average, the amount of oxygen expelled by a woman in labor is 3 times more than that expelled by a single marathon runner. When a woman can be that strong during labor, the most excruciating phase of pregnancy, then she is capable enough of achieving anything. All that she requires is the right technique and direction. It is this principle of empowering and equipping women for childbirth that formed the basis of Brooke’s program
In the videos, Brooke’s clients and instructors can be seen performing one of the foundational exercises of her program called The Belly Pump. This exercise plays around with the diaphragmatic movements during breathing, which is the mainstay of the program. Brooke explains that as babies, we breathe through our diaphragm naturally instead of the chest, which is why our breaths were generally deeper. However, with time and age, we end up breathing through the chest. The result: our breaths are shorter and quicker, activating the ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system. No wonder then that our body remains in a constant state of stress and nervousness. On the other hand, breathing through the diaphragm activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby helping us take control of our bodies, keeping us calm and de-stressed.
Now, lets come to the most important question. Does this technique hurt the baby inside? No. Here is what happens during this technique of breathing: when a woman breathes in, she activates her transverse abdominal muscles which in turn create a contraction between the deep core muscles and the pelvic floor. This activates and lifts the pelvic floor in such a way that the baby slides up into the rib cage. Sounds fascinating, right?
I’m sure this might have got you all gung-ho about giving this a shot. But a word of caution here: please discuss this with your doctor before trying any new technique.
Meanwhile, we wish Brooke Cates all the very best in trying to revolutionize the way pregnancy and motherhood is approached. May your tribe increase, Brooke!
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