Pelvic floor exercises are something that, as women, we’re told about over and over again, but are we doing these quick and uncomfortable exercises as often as we should be…i.e. everyday?
I know I don’t, and dare I speak on behalf of women, I’m sure the majority of us aren’t doing them as often as we should be. A study conducted in the UK has shown that 66% of women didn’t know where their pelvic floor was and only 40% doing their pelvic floor exercises on a regular basis – not great stats when I’m sure 100% of us do not want to be urinary and/or faecally incontinent in the long run!
So here’s a quick 411 on all things pelvic floor and why they are important for women pre-baby, during pregnancy and post baby.
What is the pelvic floor?
Think of your pelvic floor as a sling of muscles that support the uterus, bladder and bowel. Everything that comes out from down below passes through the pelvic floor. These sling-like muscles attach at the front to your pubic bone and at the back to your tail bone, from the base of your pelvis.
How do I do a kegel correctly?
To understand the muscles involved in pelvic floor exercises imagine needing to do a wee but not being near the toilet…that initial squeeze is the activation of your pelvic floor. How to do your pelvic floor exercises, see link below:
What’s the point pre-baby?
- Provides bladder and sphincter control
- Facilitates a strong foundation for when you do have a baby (think bowling ball sitting on your bladder…), to help minimise urinary incontinence
- Can improve orgasms and sexual pleasure
What’s the point during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone softens and relaxes the muscles and ligaments within your body, enabling it to help bub manoeuvre its way through the pelvis and birth canal.
This progesterone also slows other things down in your body and a common problem during pregnancy is constipation, so drink lots or water, stay active and embrace a fibre-rich diet.
During labour and birth the pressure of bearing down and pushing may stretch and weaken the pelvic floor, so having the foundation of a strong pelvic floor can benefit the efficacy of pushing. It’s also not a bad idea to look into birthing positions, as birthing in an upright position can increase pelvic diameter by 30% …working with gravity…making more room for bub (read our article on birthing positions here)
The benefits of doing your pelvic floor exercises (excerpt via huggies.com) :
- The risk of uterine or bladder prolapse is reduced
- Pregnancy, delivery and recovery time can be improved
- Post-partum discomfort from perineal swelling and haemorrhoids is reduced
- Perineal tearing and/or need for an episiotomy is reduced
- Urinary incontinence/leakage during pregnancy and after delivery is reduced
- A toned pelvic floor leads to more complete emptying of the bladder and bowel
- Helps to avoid stress incontinence after delivery – small amounts of urine leakage when laughing, sneezing, coughing or lifting something heavy
How do I regain strength post baby, and when should I start doing my pelvic floor exercises?
Start doing those pelvic floor exercises ASAP. Some women may find in the days post birth that doing their exercises laying down is easier and they are able to engage the right muscles more easily. Give it a go!
Before baby and during pregnancy your pelvic floor strength will have been more toned and therefore your exercises will have been stronger and longer in duration. In the early days post birth it’s important to work up to it. Aim for a few seconds each day for the first week, and build up to it slowly.
Tools to help with pelvic floor instability and incontinence
If you’re one of those people that need a gadget to motivate you to do exercise, here are few to investigate: