Find out why it’s so important to strengthen your pelvic floor after pregnancy, and how to do pelvic floor exercises.
What is the pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles that stretches from your pubic bone at the front to your spine at the back. These muscles support your womb, bladder and bowels. They also help you control your bladder and bowel movements.
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor can become stretched and weak because it has to support a lot of weight. During birth, the baby passes through the pelvic floor, which can leave it bruised and sore afterwards.
Why are pelvic floor exercises important?
If your pelvic floor muscles have become weaker during pregnancy, your bladder, bowels, vagina and womb are not getting enough support. This can feel uncomfortable, like a dragging sensation in your pelvis. It can reduce sensation and make sex less enjoyable.
You may also find it more difficult to control your bladder. Some women find that they accidentally leak urine, especially when coughing, sneezing or doing exercise.
But luckily, you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with some simple exercises you can do anywhere.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
You can do pelvic floor exercises anywhere you like, but to begin with, try doing them at home so you can concentrate. Birth can affect the nerves in the pelvic floor, making it difficult to feel if you are doing it right at first.
If it’s very soon after the birth and you feel sore, try doing pelvic floor exercises lying on your back or on your side to begin with. You could also try doing them when you’re in the bath.
- Sit comfortably on the edge of a table or on an upright chair.
- Imagine you are stopping the flow of urine in the middle of going to the toilet. At the same time, clench your vaginal muscles and your anus, as if you are trying not to pass wind.
- Don’t clench your buttocks or hold your breath at the same time.
- Hold it for a moment, then relax again.
- Repeat this 10-15 times, or as many as you can manage
- As your muscles get stronger, you can try holding each squeeze for 4 or 5 seconds or longer
How often to do pelvic floor exercises
Try to do your pelvic floor exercises 3 times a day. To help remind you, try doing them after every meal.
Don’t push yourself too hard at first, especially soon after the birth when your body is tired and sore. Listen to your body and always stop if you feel uncomfortable.
After a few weeks, you should start to feel the benefit of your hard work, as it becomes easier to control your bladder.
Are you noticing changes to your body after giving birth? Read our guide to your body after the birth: what to expect.
Did you know…?
Doing regular pelvic floor exercises is a good habit to get into for all women, pregnant or not, as it can help prevent stress incontinence later in life. Doing pelvic floor exercises before and during pregnancy is helpful too.
Credit: Cusson Baby Nigeria