Looking after your pelvic floor is something most women don’t give all that much thought to - that is until babies come into the picture.
During pregnancy, your body is in hormone overload. One of those hormones is called progesterone. Progesterone works to soften a woman’s muscles and ligaments so that she can give birth more easily.
However, the trouble starts after the baby is born, when a new mother may struggle to regain the tone in her pelvic floor. This lack of tone is what’s responsible for postpartum incontinence or urinating involuntarily.
So what’s the solution?
It can be tremendously helpful to work on strengthening your pelvic floor with exercise throughout your pregnancy and after giving birth. It can also be useful to wear a maternity belt or vulva support belt as you recover from birth.
In this article, we’ll share some helpful exercises to take care of your pelvic floor throughout pregnancy.
When should you start doing pelvic floor exercises?
Ideally, it’s best to work on strengthening your pelvic floor before you start trying to get pregnant. However, the next best thing to do is to start practicing pelvic floor exercises as early on in your pregnancy as possible.
Like any exercise, pelvic floor exercises get easier with practice and repetition. The stronger your pelvic floor muscles are before you give birth, the faster they will recover after the baby is born.
Another common name for pelvic floor exercises is ‘kegels’. It’s a good idea to practice these exercises daily for a few minutes at a time.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises (or kegels) are relatively simple to perform. Here’s how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly:
- Start by closing your eyes and drawing attention to the muscles supporting your vagina and urethra. Focus on tightening them. It should feel as though the muscles are lifting up.
- Next, focus your attention on the muscles around your rectum, tightening again. This should feel as though the muscles are moving upwards and inwards. While holding this tension, extend the tightening to the front. It should feel like you’re trying to stop passing urine.
- Aim to hold this position for three seconds to begin with. As you build your strength in your pelvic floor, aim to work up to holding the position for ten seconds at a time.
- Once you’ve held the position for at least three seconds, relax your muscles for the same amount of time. Repeat this exercise three to five times per set. Aim to do three sets per day.
Once you’ve built up some strength in your pelvic floor, you can increase the number of repetitions you do per set. Aim to try and achieve 10 reps per set, and three sets per day.
Other tips for looking after your pelvic floor during pregnancy
It’s really important to practice your pelvic floor exercises regularly, and make them part of your daily routine. It only takes a few minutes to complete the exercises and doing so can really help to improve and speed up your pelvic floor recovery after giving birth.
Another tip is to make sure you continue doing low impact exercise throughout your pregnancy. While high-impact exercise like running, jumping or lifting heavy weights isn’t appropriate during pregnancy, you can still participate in low impact activities like walking, swimming, aqua aerobics, pregnancy yoga or pilates and more.
Doing exercise that doesn’t put your pelvic floor at risk is a great way to feel energised and strong as your baby grows.
Finally, another key thing to remember while looking after your pelvic floor during pregnancy is to avoid straining as much as possible when using your bowels. Constipation carries a significant risk for developing weakness in your pelvic floor.
Avoiding constipation after birth is also very important for helping your pelvic floor to heal. To avoid constipation, make sure you are getting plenty of water every day and eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit. Avoid foods that have a drying or inflammatory effect such as white bread, pasta, and dairy.
Consider using a vulva support belt too
- Vulvar Varicosity
- Pelvic Floor
- Organ Prolapse
- Vaginal Hysterectomy
- Incontinence and more
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