The pelvic floor is made up of a collection of muscles and ligaments that stretch from the pubic bone to the end of the backbone. The pelvic floor is a supportive hammock and gets put under a lot of strain during pregnancy as it stretches to accommodate the growing baby.
Why do I need to do pelvic floor exercises?
The pelvic floor comes under a great amount of strain during pregnancy and childbirth. By exercising the muscles, you can strengthen your pelvic floor. This reduces your risk of suffering from stress incontinence after the pregnancy. With weak pelvic floor muscles, you may find that you leak urine when you laugh, cough or sneeze.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
- Tense your anus as if you’re holding in a bowel movement.
- At the same time, tense your pelvic muscles as if you are holding in a wee or gripping a tampon.
The pelvic floor workout routine:
- Repeat the above steps quickly, eight times.
- Then repeat the above steps again, but this time hold step two for 10 seconds before releasing. Repeat this eight times.
- Tighten the muscles (in steps one and two) in stages. So tighten a little bit, hold for 10 seconds, then tighten a bit more, hold for 10 seconds, then tighten fully and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this staggered process as you relax the muscles too. This exercise is the hardest of the three, so be warned! Repeat this eight times (you might want to build up to this number slowly if you’re a beginner).
Try to repeat your pelvic floor workout three times a day for the full length of your pregnancy. Many women find they forget to do the pelvic floor workout, so try to incorporate it into your daily routine. You do your workout while you sit down to enjoy your three meals of the day, or you could do them each time a particular advert comes on the TV. Find a routine that works for you, and stick with it.
When should I stop?
You can continue these exercises right up until the very end of your pregnancy, unless told not to by your healthcare provider.
Don’t give up your pelvic floor routine at the end of the pregnancy, you should continue these exercises for the rest of your life. Not only could they help to heal and strengthen the muscles after the birth, but they could reduce your risk of suffering incontinence in the future. Pelvic floor exercises can also help to reduce your risk of suffering from a prolapsed uterus or bladder.
Over the last few years, whether or not to practice pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy has become controversial. Pelvic floor exercises, however, do seem to be the most useful when they are part of an overall fitness routine and when they are done correctly. So be sure you are getting the recommended amount of exercise each day (most experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day for pregnancy) and learn more about the best methods to exercise your pelvic floor muscles.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.