PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
This is the one of the most important things I remind all my patients that are preparing for pregnancy, are already pregnant and when I see them after the birth of their baby.
An absolute must for all women and particularly pregnant women!
What is the Pelvic floor?
It’s a group of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel. The openings from these organs, the urethra from the bladder, the vagina from the uterus, and the anus from the bowel pass through the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles attach to your pubic bone at the front and the tailbone (coccyx) at the back and from the base of your pelvis.
Strong pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs to prevent problems such as incontinence (the involuntary loss of urine or faeces) and prolapse (lack of support) of the bladder, uterus and bowel.
The pelvic floor muscles also help you to control bladder and bowel function, such as, allowing you to ‘hold on’ until an appropriate time and place.
What puts strain on my pelvic floor?
- Pregnancy, particularly from 18 weeks as your baby gets heavier and places more strain on your body.
- Childbirth, particularly following delivery of a large baby or prolonged pushing during delivery
- Being overweight
- Constipation (excessive straining to empty your bowel)
- Persistent heavy lifting
- Excessive coughing – causing repetitive straining
- Changes in hormonal levels at menopause
- Growing older
What can I do to make them stronger? Exercise them! I recommend that all women exercise their pelvic floor muscles every day. You can do specifically focused exercises on your pelvic floor muscles in conjunction with regular gentle exercise, such as walking can also help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
I recommend looking at the Continence Foundation Website and following their exercise program. You can also take a look at this YouTube clip from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne where I hold a position as Obstetric Consultant Specialist to help you locate and learn to work your pelvic floor muscles.
If you already have issues with your pelvic floor, or they develop throughout or post-pregnancy, I can refer you to a specialized physiotherapist who can help you. However, it is very important to do your exercises preventatively as it can be difficult to reverse issues after problems arise.
You can read more about exercising during pregnancy here.