How to Protect your Pelvic Floor During Pregnancy

 

Need a Reason to Do your Pelvic Floor in Pregnancy?

Here's a big one! If you are pregnant now and aren't experiencing incontinence or leaking you will be 62% LESS likely to experience incontinence in late pregnancy! #HUGE! You'll also have a 29% lower risk of developing urinary incontinence in the 3-6 months post-birth.

But this is only if you do regular pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy (and do them well!).

To be effective in the treatment of incontinence, it is essential that you can perform a correct contraction with adequate strength and control.

In this video, Titled Women's Health Physio Lyz Evans shares all about your pelvic floor including:

  • What muscles make up the pelvic floor.
  • Why it's so important to have a strong pelvic floor during pregnancy.
  • What you can do to strengthen and protect your pelvic floor during pregnancy

Why is your Pelvic Floor so Important in Pregnancy

Your pelvic floor needs to be able to contract and lift, in order to protect your pelvic organs and maintain continence. But it also needs to be able to open and relax. Especially during pregnancy, where your pelvic floor needs to be able to stretch up to 3 times its normal length to allow for the passage of your baby down the birth canal. During pregnancy, the muscles of your pelvic floor start to soften and lengthen as they prepare for birth.

Being pregnant places huge stress on your pelvic floor muscles. So how do we protect our pelvic floor during pregnancy?

 


5 Steps to Protecting your Pelvic Floor in Pregnancy

#1 Posture

The weight of your growing uterus during pregnancy can cause you to either exaggerate the lumber curve in your lower back (lordosis) or tuck your tailbone under your body to compensate for the growing weight of your belly. 

Your pelvic floor functions optimally when you are standing or sitting with a neutral spine. During pregnancy and the postpartum period, one of the most simplest ways to protect your pelvic floor is to stand tall with a neutral spine.

#2 Breathing

Your pelvic floor is connected to your diaphragm and your breathing directly affects how your pelvic floor functions. When we inhale the lungs expand and the diaphragm gently pushes down into the abdominal cavity.

The pelvic floor will naturally open and lengthen. As you inhale, your diaphragm lifts back up into the thoracic cavity and your pelvic floor naturally will also lift and gently contract.  Diaphragmatic breathing will help you to create space in your body and allow your pelvic floor to move naturally.

# 3 Pelvic Floor Strengthening

In the Empowered Motherhood Program, we share a range of different tools, cues, visuals and workouts to help you to strengthen your pelvic floor properly.

If you are unsure of how to do a pelvic floor contraction we recommend seeing a Women’s Health Physio who can help you to gain an embodied sense of what a good pelvic floor contraction feels like and also to help you to connect your pelvic floor engagement with your tranversus abdominis (deepest core muscles).

"Over 30% of women are unable to contract their pelvic floor properly. And as many as 25% strain downwards instead of performing a squeeze or a lift of the pelvic floor."

#4 Deep Core Exercises

Think of your core like a plastic cylinder with glad wrap covering the top and bottom. The glad wrap at the bottom is your pelvic floor. When you squeeze tightly onto the cylinder, the glad wrap will expand and lengthen.

This is how your core basically works. If you contract your core too tightly, it will place excessive downward pressure on your pelvic floor.

During pregnancy, your pelvic floor is already under a lot of extra strain and pressure, so we don’t want to overload it.


Want a complete physio-led program to help you create a strong Pelvic Floor and Core during Pregnancy?

Try the EMP Pregnancy Program

You'll have access to a complete week by week program for your entire pregnancy and birth preparation led by women's health experts. 

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#5 Pelvic Floor Relaxation

Your pelvic floor muscles need to be able to relax and stretch to allow for the passage of your baby out of the birth canal.

One of the simplest ways to learn to relax your pelvic floor is to practice sitting in a wide legged child’s pose with your hips slightly raised (so you are sticking your bottom in the air).

Allow your belly to hang loose and feel your sit bones spreading apart. As you breath in imagine releasing and relaxing your whole pelvic region including your pelvic floor.

As you exhale, very gently engage pelvic floor and core. Practice for 10 breaths and notice if you can begin to feel your pelvic floor actively releasing.

Watch our Birth Preparation Videos in the EMP Pregnancy Program.


#6 Avoid Heavy Lifting

If you are starting your pregnancy with a weak pelvic floor, then we recommend avoiding lifting heavy weights wherever possible. 

If you are starting your pregnancy with a weak pelvic floor and have children, you will know that it is virtually impossible to avoid all heavy lifting. The key is to use all your knowledge from the points above to lift as safely as possible. And where children are concerned, do whatever you can to keep them in the pram or get them to walk. Your body will thank you for it!


Start your Empowered Motherhood with 3 Free Workouts

Download three free videos for either pregnancy or postpartum. Led by Women's Health Physio Lyz Evans + PT Kimmy Smith.

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