A lot of women are scared of the damage that pregnancy birth will cause to their bodies. They worry about stretch marks, vaginal tears and saggy boobs. But one of the biggest change to your body could be damage to the pelvic floor, however this is easily prevented or repaired using some simple pelvic floor exercises.
What is the pelvic floor, and how do they get damaged in pregnancy?
The pelvic floor are layers of muscles that run from the tail bone to the pubic bone. These muscles are like a hammock and hold in your bladder, womb and colon. Because the pelvic floor helps you to control your bladder and bowel, looking after it can help prevent incontinence.
During pregnancy your body gets a huge surge of the hormone relaxin. This hormone relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix, in preparation for birth. The problem is that it can also affect other muscles in your body, such as the pelvic floor. The other way that pregnancy can damage the pelvic floor is the extra weight of your baby on the muscles. This means that regardless of how you birth your baby, whether vaginally or by caesarean, pelvic floor exercises are really important.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
When doing your pelvic floor exercises you need to concentrate on three areas – image you are holding in a wee, tampon and poo, then squeeze.
Method one– squeeze these three areas one at a time, hold, and then fully release. Imagine each area pulling up as you squeeze, so the pattern is up, up, up, hold and release. Repeat this ten times, each day.
Method two- squeeze all three areas together and release, like a pile rhythm. The pattern is up, down, up, down. Again repeat this ten times, each day.
When should you start doing pelvic floor exercises?
Now! There is no better time to start than the present, unless you have just had your baby. The best thing about pelvic floor exercises is that you can do them anywhere and any time and no-one will know. Start doing them every day from now on, forever. (Once you have had your baby obviously give yourself a bit of time to recover and rest.)
It can sometimes be hard to remember to do pelvic floor exercises, so try to do them at trigger times. For example when stopped at traffic lights, brushing your teeth or when scrolling through your phone. With enough practice it will soon become second nature. Once your baby is born a good time to practice is when feeding your baby, as you will be doing this multiple times a day.
This article is intended as general advice, ad not medical advice. If you are having pelvic floor problems or are concerned about your health, please seek professional help from your doctor or midwife. There is also lots of useful help from the Pelvic Floor Society.
Pelvic floor health, and lots of other pregnancy topics to help you recover better from birth are covered as standard on my full hypnobirthing course. You can find out about classes and dates here.