What is Intra-Abdominal Pressure and Its Benefits during Pregnacy

By: Sabrina Blajos

I wanted to share a couple parts of a blog I had recently read on the BirthFit Website, it is very informative in identifying the differences between IAP (intra-abdominal pressure) regulations, Valsalva, and Bearing Down and why if you start working with me as you BirthFit Coach we will practice Diaphragmatic Breathing and IAP. If you are interested in learning more about IAP or other topics in the motherhood transition please feel free to reach out to me. Also if you aren’t already you should be following BIrthFit on all avenues: Blog, Podcast, Social Media.

So first things first what is IAP?

“IAP is the pressure within the abdominal cavity that naturally increases every time you breathe. This is accomplished through proper diaphragmatic breathing. Proper diaphragmatic breathing naturally utilizes the diaphragm, lower rib expansion, and even the pelvic floor for both breathing and stabilization! As you breathe in your diaphragm expands downward and slightly outward while the pelvic floor gently relaxes down to mimic the movement of the diaphragm. This movement naturally draws air into the diaphragm and increases IAP every single time you inhale to help stabilize the low back and pelvic floor. As you breathe out, the diaphragm moves upward and the pelvic floor gently lifts and tightens to support the pelvic floor and surrounding muscles. We want to breathe, stabilize, and be able to move all at the same time to ensure we are not accidentally bearing down by holding our breath. This is one reason we never recommend someone holding their breath during movement as that more closely mimics bearing down.”
– Lauren Keller, DC, DABCA

Now the Benefits of Intra-Abdominal Pressure and Pregnancy!

“BirhtFit movements are largely based on information from Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization which is one of the leading researchers in understanding the effects of breathing and how to properly regulate the natural changes that occur to create stability. As Pavel Kolar stated, “ Core stability is not achieved purely by strength of the abdominals, spinal erectors, glutes or any other muscle, rather core stabilization is accomplished through precise coordination of these muscles to generate IAP.” Through the creation of IAP, research shows that IAP regulations can lead to the following benefits:

  • An Increase in IAP stabilizes the spine (goodbye low back pain)
  • IAP “can unload the spine during static and dynamic lifting tasks” (hello better support while lifting or living)
  • Provides anterior lumbopelvic postural stability (goodbye hip and pelvic pain)
  • Creates balanced co-activation of diaphragm and pelvic floor (hello pelvic floor health)
  • Activates the deep core muscles to allow for optimal coordination of improve joint stability

So next time you second guess lifting or exercising for fear of increasing IAP, remember that IAP is actually supportive! But you might want to double check to make sure you aren’t bearing down while doing that lift.”
– Lauren Keller, DC, DABCA