Until you’re pregnant, you probably didn’t give much thought to your pelvic floor muscles – which can make finding them quite tricky. But when you’re expecting a child, it’s essential to exercise this group of muscles each day to prevent complications such as incontinence in later life.
The pelvic floor muscles act as a hammock to cradle and support the uterus, bladder, bowels and other pelvic organs. During pregnancy these muscles can become weak and dysfunctional due to the increased load, and in labour they relax – and stretch – as the baby moves down the birth canal. The upshot of this is some unfortunate consequences: urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, haemorrides and other colonic-related issues you will want to avoid if at all possible.
A fantastic APP to remind you to do your pelvic floors is “Squeezy“. I recommend you download it straightaway!
Start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you discover you’re pregnant and resume as soon as possible after giving birth as they will help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process.Then carry on doing your pelvic floor exercises forever! Doing them for the rest of your life will help prevent problems in later life such as a prolapsed uterus or bladder.
How to find your pelvic floor muscles
- Imagine that you are trying to stop your flow of urine mid-stream.
- The feeling is ‘squeeze and lift’ without tightening your bum or holding your breath.
- The pelvic floor muscles are made up of two kinds of muscle fibre: slow twitch for stamina and fast twitch for quick contractions. For best effect, you need to exercise both kinds.
- Sit or lie comfortably with your knees slightly apart. Squeeze and lift the pelvic floor muscles and imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind and trying to stop your flow of urine mid-stream at the same time (sorry, it’s all a bit graphic). Hold and count to 5 but remember to breathe normally.
- Double check you are not using your bum muscles.
- Gradually build up to holding for 10 counts and then relax completely. Repeat up to 10 repetitions.
- In the same comfortable position, try tightening and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles as quickly as you can. Squeeze and pull up the pelvic floor muscles strongly, then let go straight away. Repeat up to 10x.
Try and do the above exercises at least 3-6 times daily during pregnancy. Fit them into your daily routine: do them while you are stuck in traffic or watching TV. A fantastic APP to remind you to do your pelvic floors is “Squeezy“. I recommend you download it straightaway!