What is the hipster thing I’m talking about?
No, you can’t buy it from Bunnings.
But, it is important to you pushing out a baby and oh, I don’t know, not weeing yourself when you laugh, sneeze or jump on a trampoline.
Yeah, you better read on…
What does your pelvic floor do?
A strong pelvic floor will be your saving grace during pregnancy and labour. Why? Because among other things, it holds everything in! During your pregnancy, your uterus presses down on your bladder meaning that you are likely to pee more often. With a strong pelvic floor, you are less likely to have to rush off to the toilet during an important work meeting because you have confidence that you won’t pee yourself at the table. Relaxin, your pregnancy hormones, will stretch your pelvic floor which may result in a little wee coming out when you sneeze or cough.
When you go through labour, particularly for women who have vaginal births, your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles more generally will help push your baby through the birth canal There is evidence that suggests a strong pelvic floor may shorten your second stage of labour (the pushing part). During this process your muscles will be traumatized by all the stretching and pushing that is required to give birth. After you have a baby, it can feel as though your pelvic floor is heavy. Although feeling shouldn’t last long though.
You will notice that due to the trauma of the delivery you may experience a little incontinence for a short period of time post-birth. Plus you may also experience some bleeding and not be able to control the release of wind, depending on the type of delivery you had. But it is important to note that once your muscles have overcome the trauma, you should not be experiencing any of these symptoms. Even a small amount of incontinence is not normal and if you experience this, again I recommend you should see a women’s health physiotherapist.
All in all, if you have a strong pelvic floor you will be confident you won’t pee yourself during pregnancy, you will have more control when pushing during labour, and your recovery post-birth will be that much more quicker. Plus, a strong pelvic floor pre-pregnancy will help your muscles return to normal after delivery.
Where is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a layer of muscle that essentially prevents your baby from falling out! More delicately put, it supports your bladder, uterus and bowel. So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. It is located at the top of your vagina and at the base of your uterus.
How do you strengthen it?
Strengthening your pelvic floor can be tricky as many people think they’re doing it right, when all they’re doing is squeezing their abs or bottom. Although your pelvic floor is located in such an intimate place, you can actual strengthen it at any time and no one will know. In fact, other people won’t even know you’re exercising your pelvic floor, even if they’re sitting right next to you at the dinner table or in a board meeting.
Firstly (this probably should be done at a gym or at home, not in a work meeting), you need to find your pelvic floor muscles. This can be done by laying on your back, side or in a four point kneeling position. Let your muscles loosen. Then squeeze your muscles as if you are preventing the flow of wee. Next use your muscles to prevent the release of wind, then contract both muscles together and let them lose. Some women do this exercise when they’re actually on the toilet, but it is important not to actually stop your flow of wee as a form of exercising your pelvic floor, rather use it as a means of finding your pelvic floor to ensure you are using the right muscles when exercising.
To exercise your pelvic floor try to gently squeeze then hold the muscles you identified while you breathe. Now relax them. It is very important to relax your muscles after contracting them. Many women (and men) contract too hard resulting in other muscles contracting too, remember it is only a gentle squeeze.
Ideally, you should be able to hold your pelvic floor for 10 x 10 second holds, and be able to do quick strong holds (“quick flicks”) as well as sustained holds.
Once you are able to master these holds in the lying down or kneeling position, you can work your way up to doing them in seated and standing positions. Once this is mastered, you can then progress to doing them when completing easy tasks such as squats. It is also recommended to engage your pelvic floor before sneezing and coughing.
How often do I exercise it?
It is best to exercise your pelvic floor every day. Like I said before it can be done without anyone around you knowing.
Where can I find more information?
You can find more info here http://www.poise.com.au/pelvic-floor-exercises and here http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/ and here http://www.gobooty.com.au/blog/post-natal-a-must-read-blog-from-karrie-about-returning-to-exercise-post-baby/
Check out more Pregnancy articles here.
Check out more Parenting articles here
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