Pelvic Floor Myths: Pregnancy Edition
The pelvic floor is something you often hear about when you are pregnant – but usually “do your pelvic floor exercises” is the extent of the information you get! Below are some answers to some of the questions Emily has dealt with during her time working with pregnant and post-natal women and on the maternity ward. Hopefully the information below helps guide you in what to do during your pregnancy and answer some questions that may have been coming to mind.“Do your pelvic floor exercises” is the extent of the information you get! #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Q: It is normal to experience leaking of urine during pregnancy
A: During pregnancy, you may experience some leaking. This happens for some women with a cough or sneeze, sometimes during a bout of morning sickness or for some women during exercise. Just because something commonly happens to women, does not mean it is normal. These experiences can happen any time throughout the pregnancy journey for women. If you are experiencing leaking during exercise, it is a good idea to re-think how safe the exercise is for you to be doing, you could also see a physio who will be able to assess you and potentially give you better technique on how to do the exercise to stop the leaking or give you different exercises to do. As your ligaments relax during pregnancy, it is easier to experience leaking so you may want to reconsider exercises such as heavy lifting and running – but definitely talk to a professional to get the best advice. Another good way to combat leaking during incidental activities such as sneezing or coughing is to use “the knack”. “The Knack” is when you contract your pelvic floor before you cough, sneeze or lift, and this helps provide extra closing pressure around the urethra and bladder neck and prevent leaking.
Q: You need to do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy
A: As your ligaments relax more and your baby gets heavier weighing down on your pelvic floor, performing pelvic floor exercises does get more difficult. If the exercises are getting too difficult, or it feels like nothing is happening or maybe you are just contracting your leg or buttock muscles, I would recommend trying your exercises when lying on your side in bed. In this position gravity is eliminated and it is easier to perform a pelvic floor contraction. On your side will also take some of the weight of the baby off your pelvic floor and make the contraction easier as well. If you are going to commit any time and thought into pelvic floor, I would recommend to put it towards the knack (as mentioned above) as it the most functional pelvic floor contraction and will have the most beneficial outcomes.
Q: I’m having a c-section so I don’t need to do pelvic floor exercises
A: There is some belief that if you have a caesarean section there is no need to perform pelvic floor exercises. Yes there is less pressure on your pelvic floor as you have not delivered your baby vaginally and there has been no tearing etc of the tissue down below, but please keep in mind it took 9 months to grow your baby. Whether you deliver via c-section or vaginally, during pregnancy you still have the same amount of hormones relaxing your pelvic floor and you still have the same weight of your baby weighing down on your pelvic floor, so it is still important to do your pelvic floor exercises. Performing pelvic floor exercises will also help you recover from your c-section and make lifting and getting out of chairs etc easier.Performing pelvic floor exercises will also help you recover from your c-section #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Q: I don’t want to run so I don’t need to worry about my pelvic floor
A: Just because you don’t want to do exercise that involves running or jumping or lifting heavy weights, doesn’t mean you can neglect your pelvic floor. As many of you know who already have kids is that they get heavy! And you have to lift them in awkward positions at times. You need a pelvic floor that is able to sustain the pressures of everyday activities. Between lifting and looking after children, breastfeeding, getting the pram in and out of the car, lifting groceries, putting washing on the line and running around 24/7, your pelvic floor does get a work out and you want to make sure it has the strength to withstand the pressures of daily life.
Q: I’m going to have a few kids so I will worry about my pelvic floor when I have finished having children
A: If you wait to start worrying about your pelvic floor exercises after you have finished having kids, there are years in between which you are missing out on making some massive improvements in your strength. If you continue to practice “the Knack” and doing some pelvic floor exercises during and after each pregnancy, then you will maintain your strength and will not feel like you are starting from scratch after you have finished your child bearing years. Our pelvic floor is important, and if you leave it too late it can be hard to reverse changes that have happened for a long time. I hope this list has shown you the importance of your pelvic floor and why doing something is better than doing nothing.
If you have any questions about your pelvic floor or are unsure where to start when it comes to exercises, a physiotherapist trained in women’s health assessment will be able to assess you and point you in the right direction.
Emily Georgopolous (APAM)
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