Pelvic Floor Muscles
During pregnancy, increasing pressure is put on your own pelvic floor muscles. Research has shown that pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy makes it more unlikely you will be incontinent after birth. It is therefore important to exercise your pelvic floor muscles frequently.
Continuing these pelvic floor exercises after pregnancy will help prevent long-term difficulties, such as prolapse. Prolapse is when the pelvic organs have lost some support, and can bulge into the vagina.
Where are my pelvic floor muscles?
Your pelvic floor muscles form the base of your pelvis. The muscles are attach to your coccyx more commonly know as your tailbone, and up to your own pubic bone at the front - they will also be attached at the sides of your pelvis, to the bones which you sit on. The anus, vagina and urethra (tube from the bladder) pass through these muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles:
During pregnancy and birth, the pelvic floor muscles help rotate your babys head into the right birth posture and support the weight of your growing uterus.
How do I find my pelvic floor muscles?
There are a number of methods to locate your pelvic floor muscles. Attempt 'squeezing' your partner during penetrative sex or insert one or two fingers into your vagina and try squeezing them.
You're able to occasionally try using your pelvic floor muscles to cease your urine mid- stop or flow wind from your back passage - but don't do this as an exercise as it can lead to your bladder not emptying properly.
Your pelvic floor muscles comprise of fast fibres for strength and stamina. For best results, you need to work out both sorts of fibres.
- Sit or lie comfortably with your knees apart. Pull up the muscles surrounding your back passage, as if you're stopping yourself from passing wind. Add a squeeze towards the front around your vagina and bladder, as if stopping the flow of urine.
- Rest for a couple of seconds, then repeat.
- Make sure that you aren't squeezing your buttocks, or holding your breath to contract.
- Sit or lie comfortably with your knees slightly apart. Pull up the muscles surrounding your back passage, as if you are stopping yourself from passing wind. Now add a squeeze towards the front around your vagina and bladder, as if stopping the flow of urine. Hold the squeeze while you count to five seconds, dont forget to breathe normally.
Try and do your exercises three times each day. By practicing after you have ended on the loo, or when you are watching TV try to fit them into your daily routine.
After a delivery that is uncomplicated
Restarting pelvic floor muscle exercises as soon as possible after giving birth will help speed up the healing process and to reduce any swelling.
Start with gentle, brief, pelvic floor muscle squeezes, within 24 hours of having your baby. Most women find that it is not as sore as they expect although you might be concerned that it's going to damage.
It is possible to compress a bit harder and add in your long squeezes again, as you feel comfortable and more confident. Gradually build up just how long you hold, and many squeezes you do. Try to do this four to five times each day. You may find that this can be a good time once your baby is feeding well.
After a delivery with forceps or by caesarean
Once any urinary catheter was removed start your pelvic floor muscle exercises, and you are passing urine normally again.
Do not suppose that if you've had a caesarean you do not have to do these exercises. Only being pregnant can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. You are still prone to bowel and bladder problems.
Continuing with your pelvic floor muscle exercises at least three times every day, until you believe they are back to normal. Doing them daily for the remainder of your life will help prevent problems in later life, like a prolapsed uterus, bladder or bowel.
What do I do if I believe something's not right with my pelvic floor?
Incontinence (leaking from your bladder or bowel) and prolapse can be distressing at any time. Unfortunately leaking is not unusual during and after pregnancy. Pelvic floor muscle exercises are the main treatment. Sometimes it can be tough to know if you're squeezing right, or to feel muscle tissue after giving birth.
You should speak to your own midwife, GP or health visitor if:
- You are having difficulties with your bladder or bowel.
- You think that might have a prolapse.
- Sex is painful.
- You are having trouble with your pelvic floor muscle exercises.
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