Updated: Apr 5, 2022
Many of you reading this will have heard many of times that it is important for you to look after you Pelvic Floor in pregnancy… rest assured we will cover everything you need to know.
Laughing and needing to cross your legs….
Coughing and leaking…
Running and leaking…
Been pregnant and had a baby…
YOU ARE MOST DEFINITLY IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that span the bottom of the pelvic and support your pelvic organs (bladder, bowel and uterus/womb) When pelvic floor muscles are weakened they can create problems with bladder and bowel control.
What are the Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor muscles give you the ability to control the release of urine (wee), faeces (poo) and flatus (wind) and delay emptying of your bowel and bladder until it is convenient.
When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, they lift the internal organs of the pelvic and tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. The opposite of this and relaxing the pelvic floor allows passage or urine and faeces… oh and giving birth!
These functions are extremely important if your urethral or anal sphincters do not work normally… those of you postpartum will need to start looking after your pelvic floor straight away… but more on this later.
Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function. It plays a big part in voluntary contractions (squeezing) of the pelvic floor to contribute to sexual sensation and arousal.
Most importantly for you reading this… The pelvic floor muscles provide support for the baby during pregnancy and need to be relaxed during the birth process.
Anatomy of the Pelvis
The pelvic floor muscles form the base of the group of muscles commonly called the ‘core’. These muscles work simultaneously with the deep abdominal and back muscles and the diaphragm to support your spine and control the pressure inside your abdomen.
The pelvis floor is made up of layers of thick muscle and other tissue, with the layers stretched like a hammock from the pubic bone at the front to the coccyx at the back and from one side of your sitting bone to the other.
Pelvic Floor Problems
Whilst pelvic floor problems can happen to anyone, the likelihood of this happening during pregnancy is extremely high if the right strategies aren’t implemented. The issues are caused when the pelvic floor muscles are stretched and weakened or too tight.
Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
Pelvic Floor muscles can be weakened by:
Being pregnant/pregnancy- hormonal changes mean the muscles are softened and lengthened and pregnancy then adds a whole extra load of weight from your growing baby onto these muscles.
Not keeping them active and not following a pelvic health programme
Persistent heavy lifting
High impact exercise
Long term persistent coughing
However… worry not, as in nearly all cases the pelvic floor can be strengthened.
Pelvic Floor Muscles are too tight
A tight pelvic floor occurs when the muscles in the pelvic floor become tense and unable to relax. People who have tight pelvic floor may experience also experience painful sex, constipation, urgency to urinate and pelvic pain. Tight pelvic floor muscles are just as dysfunctional as weak ones.
I would highly recommend seeing a pelvic health physio during pregnancy and after pregnancy to help you manage and treat your hypertonic pelvic floor.
Pelvic Floor Exercise Benefits for Pregnancy and Beyond
The pelvic floor muscles are like other muscles in the body…. They become stronger with regular exercise.
For your pregnancy, pelvic floor muscle exercises will help the body support your growing baby and reduce the chances of having bowel or bladder problems after birth.
Strength in your pelvic floor during pregnancy by regular exercise will return to normal much faster after birth… get started on those exercises now ladies!
Those of you who have stress incontinence… yes leaking when you sneeze, cough or are active/exercising, pelvic floor exercises will improve your symptoms.
As you grow older, hormones change after the menopause and can affect bladder control and weaken pelvic floor muscles. Doing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor can help to lessen the effects of menopause of bladder control and pelvic support
It is highly recommended that you complete pelvic floor exercises everyday… more on what to do later…
How to do Pelvic Floor Exercises… Finding the right muscles.
Top Tips on Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Sit or lie down with the muscles of your thighs, bum and stomach relaxed.
First, squeeze the ring of muscles around the anus (Back passage) as if you were trying to stop wind…Now relax this muscle. Try this movement a few times, make sure your muscles stay relaxed and you shouldn’t be squeezing your glutes.
Now, at the same time imagine lifting your vagina, like you are gripping a tampon. **Add photo
So, you are squeezing and draw in the muscles of your vagina and anus at the same time to contract your pelvic floor muscles.
Imagine Remember to keep breathing whilst doing them, you shouldn’t be holding your breath whilst exercising your pelvic floor muscles.
Make sure you’re also not squeezing your glutes (bum muscles), thighs or abdominal muscles!
How to Do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises
Once you can feel your pelvic floor muscles working with the exercises above, you can start exercising them…
Great news is that Pelvic Floor exercises can be done anywhere, anytime – Sitting, lying, brushing your teeth, or even waiting in line at a coffee shop or for the kettle to boil your morning brew they only take around 3 minutes to perform.
Follow the below protocol x 3 time daily to help support your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy.
Pelvic Floor Exercises - Daily Routine
10s Squeeze Holds – Followed by 10s Relax – Repeat 10 times
Fast Twitch Squeezes:
3s Squeeze Holds – Followed by 1s Relax – Repeat 10 times
Remember… your pelvic floor health is extremely important as a pregnant or postpartum women, so make sure you invest in your own health.
Check out the amazing Midwife Pip Podcast - EPISODE with Clare Bourne, Pelvic Health Specialist
Also available on other platforms including our website HERE
Check out Midwife Pips video on Pelvic Floor Health.
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Thanks for reading,
Midwife Pip x