Chances are you've heard of body pump, but have you heard of belly pump AKA the mystery of the disappearing baby bellies?
A series of videos, showcasing the exercise technique in action, have recently gone viral - and it's quite something to behold. Take a look:
Belly Pump is part of The Bloom Method, an exercise program designed for women "preparing for conception, pregnancy and looking for some guidance during the postpartum phase".
Its Colorado-based founder, Brooke Cates, is a personal trainer who specialises in pre and postnatal corrective exercise and core rehabilitation. Speaking to Babble, the 35-year-old explained that she had seen many women feel they need to "give up" their bodies to become a mum. "I thought,'Wow, what a negative way to see becoming a mother,'" she said, adding that she recognised the need for a new approach to pre and postnatal fitness.
Now, Ms Cates' focus is on empowering mums by giving them tools to effectively prepare them for labour - something she calls "The Birth Marathon" - as well as aiding post birth recovery.
In a post to her Instagram account, Ms Cates explains that she believes the belly pump (AKA Diaphragmatic breathing with Deep Core Engagement) is something every mum should be adding to their daily routine - for a number of reasons:
- It helps to maintain a connection to the deep core muscles throughout pregnancy (pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, & multifidus)
- It can decrease lower back and pelvic pain
- It can decrease the chances of abdominal separation by, "creating a balancing effect of the Inhale- creating space for the baby & the Exhale - maintaining strength in the muscles of the deep core."
- It can provide more stability postpartum "while speeding up healing times during this rehabilitative stage."
Ms Cates suggest adding belly pumps to workouts or doing them throughout the day. "Try while driving, siting at your desk, brushing your teeth or cooking," she writes.
So how do you do it?
"The Belly Pump follows your breath with an inhale as the belly expands," she writes. "Exhale as you activate your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis together. Keep the breath slow and controlled throughout the exercise."
If you're wondering where the baby goes, Ms Cates says bub is completely safe during the move, simply sliding up into the rib cage.
And if you thought you'd seen everything, wait until you see this mum, who is 33-weeks pregnant with twins, demonstrating the belly pump.
That's one strong mama!
While many have responded with awe, commenting on the strength of a woman's body, not everyone is convinced. Ms Cates has also received backlash about the method, and questions regarding its safety.
"Your uterus is one of the strongest muscle in your body and will never be out strengthened by your TA (the main muscle being activated during this move)," she wrote in a Facebook post.
"Baby actually loves the movement - and simply moves up into the rib cage during the exhale. Nothing to be scared of... this exercise alone prevents abdominal separation, incontinence, prolapse, low back pain and is the reason my average client only pushes for 30 mins TOPS during birth. It might scare you now but this is a glimpse into the future of pregnancy and staying connected to your core. Learning this technique will provide incredible benefits FOR LIFE!"
Of course, like any new exercise, speak to your doctor to ensure the techniques recommended by the Bloom Method are safe for you and your body.
Read more about exercising safety during pregnancy here