So, you find yourself pregnant for the first time; you are excited, nervous and have no idea of the journey you are about to embark on. Your body starts to do weird and wonderful things, like your boobs becoming ginormous and a lovely black line appears on your tummy. Then suddenly you keep hearing conversations about pelvic floor muscles…… My say? What now?? And why are they so important all of a sudden?
Here is an easy guide to the lowdown on your pelvic floor:
Your pelvic floor is the base of the group of muscles referred to as your ‘core’. These muscles are located in your pelvis and stretch like a hammock from the pubic bone (at the front) to the coccyx or tail-bone (at the back) and from side to side. So basically a whole floor of muscles that run underneath your pelvic area that hold everything in; apart from the three holes in the muscles for your Urethra, Vagina and Anus that let stuff out.
Your pelvic floor muscles do very important work with your abdominal and back muscles, and also your diaphragm to support your spine. They also help control the pressure inside your abdomen to deal with pushing down forces like when you exercise, cough, sneeze, lift and even laugh. And finally, your pelvic floor muscles support bladder and bowel control and play an important role in sexual sensation and function.
And this is why in pregnancy they become so important to focus on.
There is a lot of extra weight pushing down on your pelvic floor muscles which can strain them, and that’s before you give birth. Birth will stretch, strain, and really pull on the whole muscle group regardless of what type of birth you have. A caesarean birth does not save your pelvic floor. A damaged pelvic floor can and will lead to incontinence, and not just the more common urinary incontinence, faecal (poop) incontinence can happen too.
Please don’t worry. There is good news!!
Your pelvic floor is like any other muscle and can be built up in strength by simple pelvic floor exercises. Do them whilst pregnant to help build and maintain their strength and then do them as soon as possible after giving birth to help the muscle recover. As soon as possible, means as soon as you feel no discomfort there and have some energy for this. My yoga classes always contain pelvic floor exercises and they can be done anywhere; whilst washing up, whilst in the bath, whilst at work at your desk.
So next time you hear pelvic floor conversations, remember how awesome and powerful your pelvic muscles are and celebrate them by squeezing them as you take a long, slow and steady breath out!