What are pelvic floor muscles and why are they important?
The pelvic floor muscles form a broad sling between your legs. They stretch from the pubic bone at the front of your body to the base of your spine at the back. They have a supportive role helping to hold your bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel in place. These muscles also give you control over when you empty your bladder or move your bowels.
How does pregnancy affect my pelvic floor?
Changes in these muscles occur during pregnancy: hormonal; increasing laxity and physical; the weight and position of your baby. As a result, you may find you leak a little urine (stress incontinence) when you cough or sneeze. The problem may carry on after your baby is born. Up to a third of new mums are affected by postnatal urine leaks.
Constipation which is common in pregnant women, can put even more strain on your pelvic floor.
How do pelvic floor exercises help me?
Pelvic floor exercises, if done properly and often, can help to protect you from leaking urine while you’re pregnant and after your baby is born.
How do I find my pelvic floor muscles?
Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind and trying to stop your flow of urine mid-stream at the same time. The feeling is one of squeeze and lift, pulling up and in around your front and back passages. This should only be used as a test: to do so regularly can interfere with your normal bladder pattern.
Of course, that sounds easy enough. But the catch is that you have to squeeze and lift without:
- Pulling in your tummy
- Squeezing your legs together
- Tightening your buttocks
- Holding your breath
In addition to the above, avoid constipation with a healthy diet and ensure you are drinking sufficient fluids; a general guideline is 1500 mls per day. Though you may be visiting the toilet more frequently being fully hydrated will prevent your bladder being irritated by concentrated urine.
Physiotherapy and your Pelvic Floor
While weakness in your pelvic floor muscles is common during pregnancy it does generally recover completely within 12 weeks of having your baby. If you are concerned about your pelvic floor why not contact our continence specialist, Aileen MaGuire. Being able to contract and release your pelvic floor muscles is of equal importance. The physiotherapist will assess your exercise technique and prescribe an appropriate exercise programme. If you are experiencing symptoms after having your baby early intervention is key to prevent any long term issues.
To find out more about the services that Ballsbridge Physiotherapy can provide please contact us