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This is part two in our four part series this month on preparing for pregnancy. If you haven’t already, check out the previous blog the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy. Pregnancy can be a demanding task for your body and we want help you best prepare. Whether this is your first, second or even fifth pregnancy looking after your well-being is of upmost importance.
Firstly, getting to know what the pelvic floor is, will help you understand why it is an important part of the human body, particularly during and after pregnancy. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form the base of the pelvis. They attach from your tailbone through to your pubic bone at the front of your pelvis. They also go across your pelvis attaching to your sitting bones. The pelvic floor has several openings for the back passage, vagina and urethra to pass though. The main role of the pelvic floor muscles is to support your internal organs such as the bladder and uterus, maintain bladder and bowel control and support the spine.
As your pregnancy progresses there is an increasing pressure and load on the muscles of the pelvic floor. This is due to a combination of hormonal changes and the increasing weight of your baby. Your pelvic floor can become weak and stretched under this pressure. This can happen as early as 12 weeks into your pregnancy. Therefore, starting pelvic floor exercises before you fall pregnant or in the early weeks of pregnancy is advisable. This is particularly true for women in their second or multiple pregnancies. Multiple pregnancies and labours can leave the pelvic floor weak if not addressed.
Strengthening your pelvic floor is a great way of maintaining a healthy body during and after your pregnancy. Your physiotherapist will help you understand how to contract these muscles. Not only contracting these muscles is important but likewise being able to relax the contraction also. Strengthening the pelvic floor will help support your body to carry your baby but also to help prevent or minimise pelvic floor problems after the baby is born.
Weakness in the pelvic floor can lead to urinary incontinence while coughing or sneezing, or even during exercise and lifting. Research has shown that performing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy reduces your risk of experiencing stress incontinence. This is why we believe all women planning a pregnancy or already pregnant should see a trained physiotherapist to commence their pelvic floor exercises. Health and well-being for women is core concept that we promote in our clinic. We here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic want expecting or new mums to be at their best for both themselves and their families.