Not everyone will understand what your pelvic floor is and why pelvic floor exercises are so important after pregnancy but believe us you really need to!
After pregnancy pelvic floor exercises are more crucial than ever to make sure that everything down there is in tip top condition.
The pressure of your baby resting on your pelvic floor for 9 months as well as giving birth can give it a bit of a battering and to get it back to normal again requires a bit of effort on your part.
So to find out more about your pelvic floor and what you can do to keep it toned, we’ve put together a guide to show you what those all important exercises are.
What your pelvic floor muscles are
Your pelvic floor muscles are the group of muscles from between your legs to the base of the spine to the pubic bone at the front of your body, rather like a sling.
The pelvic floor muscles give you control over when you empty your bladder or move your bowels.
Why it’s so important
After pregnancy your pelvic floor muscles can get considerably weakened and problems like urinary incontince and lack of sensitivity during sex can arise.
These are particularly an issue after pregnancy if:
- It’s not your first pregnancy;
- Your baby weighs more than 3.7kg atbirth;
- The circumference of your baby’s head is greater than 35cm;
- Forceps were used during labour;
- You had an episiotomy.
Many women find that they leak a small amount of urine when they lift, bend, sneeze, cough or laugh all because the pelvic floor is weak.
It’s very common so there is no need to feel at all embarassed by this, almost 20% of women suffer from weakening of the pelvic floor to the point of urinary incontinence just a few weeks after giving birth but there are things that you can do to help get things back to normal.
Who needs to do them
Around 6 weeks after you give birth to your child you will have to go for a post-natal exam when your doctor will determine whether you need pelvic floor treatment.
Depending on the size of your baby and the length of your labour your doctor will be able to judge what the best course of action will be, there will be some cases where specialist treatment will be needed – which we will come to later – it’s different for everyone.
However don’t be mistaken into thinking that if you have a caesarean that you will not need to do your pelvic floor exercises. The weight of your baby resting on your pelvic floor for up to 9 months can still weaken them – you just probably won’t be as affected as those who have a vaginal birth.
Even if you don’t need any specialist treatment, you’ll be reminded about the importance of doing pelvic floor exercises regularly to keep your floor healthy and strong.
First of all, you need to identify the muscles that you’ll be working, which doesn’t come easily to everyone.The best way of doing this is to stop yourself mid-flow when you’re urinating – it’s your pelvic floor muscles doing the work! However it’s not a good idea to do this too much as stopping when you’re urinating can lead to other problems.
If you still can’t quite work out where these muscles are then when you try to do the exercises for the first few times, place a couple of fingers inside your vagina. If you feel a slight squeeze then you know you’re doing it right.
How to exercise your pelvic floor muscles:
Now that you’ve identified where these muscles are – contract the muscles with an inward and upward movement. It’s important not to hold your breath, tighten your stomach or squeeze your buttocks and thighs: these are the wrong muscles.
Once you’re comfortable with the technique, alternate between slow and fast contractions.For the slow contractions, gradually tighten the muscles and hold for 10 seconds, and for the fast contractions, tighten and relax the muscles quickly. Aim to do 10 fast and 10 slow 4 times a day.
So now that you’ve learnt the technique, you can work on these exercises anywhere you like: at home, on the bus, even while you’re at your desk…!