Pelvic Floor Repair
Throughout pregnancy your midwife or gynaecologist will tell you to do your pelvic floors, repeatedly, but why? When it is weakened it can cause incontinence and prolapse, both of which can be incredibly debilitating and are best avoided! So how can you repair your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy? The pelvic floor is a network of muscles, ligaments and tissues that extend from the base of the spine to the front pelvic bone. During pregnancy it is under tremendous strain because it supports the weight of the baby, the uterus and the placenta.
The pelvic floor has five main functions:
Supporting the bowel, bladder and uterus;
help control continence;
stabilizes hips, pelvic and lower back;
increases sensitivity during sex.
Ordinarily the pelvic floor supports the weight of the bowel, bladder and uterus, and during pregnancy the uterus grows from it’s normal size of an orange to the size of a watermelon by the third trimester. It also supports the placenta, the amniotic sac and of course, the baby. All of this is puts a significant weight and strain on the pelvic floor, stretching and weakening it. If it is not strengthened this weakness can cause urinary incontinence or a prolapse.
You can strengthen the pelvic floor during pregnancy with a set of exercises. This is how to do pelvic floor exercises:
Sit comfortably, breathe throughout and squeeze the muscle 10 to 15 times in a row.
Isolate the pelvic floor muscles, don’t use your stomach, glutes or thigh muscles.
If you’re not sure how to isolate your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. This used to be how it was recommended to strengthen the pelvic floor but it’s important to note that this is now contraindicated, so don’t regularly stop your urine flow.
When you can comfortably do these exercises, hold the squeeze for several seconds.
Start with doing these exercises three times a day, you can do more as you get stronger.
If possible, try and incorporate the exercises into your daily life – no-one is going to know you’re doing them! Do them when you’re sitting in traffic, sitting at your desk or my personal favourite, when you’re feeding the baby.
Here’s an important point that wasn’t really mentioned during all my midwife and ante natal classes, once you feel like your pelvic floor is back to normal and “recovered”, don’t stop doing the exercises. You have to keep doing them even when you feel like they are recovered.
This is a new class I’ve recently trained in, Hypopressives.
Hypopressives are breathing exercises that reduce internal pressure by retraining the core and pelvic floor. Hypopressive exercises increase the resting tone and involuntary function of the core muscles which helps maintain strength in normal daily life, rather than only in a training environment.
Hypopressives are routinely prescribed in some parts of the continent where they have far fewer post natal women who have problems with continence.
Personally I struggled when I started running after my first baby, then I got pregnant again and that stopped all my running for months! After baby number two I was determined to get sorted as well as possible. I now do a bit of hypopressives breathing after every run, sometimes more often when I don’t forget! It’s been life changing! Contact me now if you would like help.
Keeping your pelvic floor strong is crucial as it will help your recovery from childbirth and will lower your risk of incontinence or prolapse and improve your sex life.
Click here to contact me for help with pelvic floor repair.
photo credit: dMadPhoto Envoltorio de regalo. via photopin (license)