Your pregnancy and childbirth are inextricably linked to your overall health and physical conditions before you conceive. Many women might tell you after pregnancy “I wish I had known…” in retrospect.
Some health concerns related to pregnancy are obvious. For example, there is no disputing the fact that smoking is harmful to your unborn child. Others can be harder to know about, like the impact of existing conditions a pregnant woman has such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
A common health issue that gets overlooked is your pelvic floor health. You can avoid a lot of health issues if you take steps to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles before pregnancy. If you are proactive about doing this, you will inevitably benefit during (and after) pregnancy and childbirth.
The strengthening of pelvic floor muscles is important for anyone looking to get pregnant. Luckily, there are many pelvic floor exercises you can learn to help! Read on to learn more about how improving your pelvic floor can optimize your pregnancy experience.
First Things First: Safety When Exercising While Pregnant
Some of you may be practicing exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles prior to becoming pregnant (i.e. kegel exercises), but we want to point out here that if you are already pregnant you should take precautions with exercise routines.
Exercise is absolutely vital to maintaining your health and should be done to promote good pregnancy health. Expectant mothers should indeed exercise, but with the care and guidance of their medical teams. Be sure you discuss any exercise programs with your physician and/or work with a physiotherapist who has the expertise to guide you.
Your Pelvic Floor Muscles: An Evaluation
Many women have never given thought to their pelvic floor muscles prior to pregnancy. You may be wondering: Are mine weak? Do I need to strengthen them with a pelvic floor exercise?
There are a few telltale signs to determine if your pelvic floor muscles have weakened, including:
If you have experienced any of these, you may want to work with a specialist to determine how you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, especially prior to becoming pregnant and putting added stress on the pelvic muscle.
Exercises That Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles
When you become pregnant, the additional weight and strain will affect your pelvic floor muscles. Some women also experience a pelvic floor disorder like pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PrPGP), which can range from extremely uncomfortable to debilitating.
Pelvic floor muscle training utilizes specific movements that target this region and prepare you for pregnancy and childbirth. These exercises help to build strong pelvic floor muscles. This is important, as the pelvic floor muscles can have an impact on your postpartum health, reducing the risk of incontinence, which is a common problem for women post-childbirth.
After you have had an evaluation of your pelvic floor muscles (which may include a real-time ultrasound) a qualified pelvic floor physiotherapist can determine which movements will target the right muscles to best help you to increase pelvic floor muscle strength.
Kegel exercises are one of the most well-known exercises for pelvic floor muscles. However, you will also learn other techniques that can benefit you.
One such example is a pelvic floor muscle exercise where you lie on the floor, knees bent, and fully exhale. Then you would lift your pelvic region and lock your core while alternating lifting one leg up into a tabletop position.
If this sounds overwhelming or confusing, rest assured that a physiotherapist can guide you through every step of these exercises in physical therapy.
Mind Over Matter: Conquering the Pelvic Floor Muscles
Another important aspect of training pelvic floor muscles involves what you might think of as “mental exercise.” There are proven techniques to help with pelvic floor issues that are derived from meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques, with the goal of regulating your nervous system.
Sydney Pelvic Clinic’s Physio Restore Workshops combine the effectiveness of yoga, meditation, and physiotherapy into a comprehensive method for addressing pelvic floor weakness and/or pelvic pain. This can be beneficial to anyone experiencing pelvic issues, but especially so for expectant mothers and new mothers recovering from childbirth.
The practices taught in these workshops can be practiced at home for continued relief and overall wellness; participants will leave with both written and audio resources for ongoing support. With help, you’ll be able to overcome pelvic floor dysfunction, building up your pelvic floor strength.
The mindfulness practices taught in these workshops can be carried over into any phase of life, and they can be of benefit for many experiences beyond pregnancy. The workshops offered also include courses specific to prenatal and postnatal phases, offering women guidance for every step of the pregnancy and childbirth journey.
Physio Restore workshops include:
- Yoga movements to help ease pregnancy muscle tension and encourage good posture
- Exercises to increase your awareness of your pelvic floor
- Pelvic floor flexibility and relaxation to prepare the body for birth
- Breathing exercises to use in and out of labour, focused on both energising and calming
- Mental health support focused on mindfulness
- Practices centered on deep relaxation
Your Best Resource for the Entire Pregnancy
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is just one of many issues you may face as you plan to become pregnant. Newly expectant mothers have many questions, fears, and concerns to address, and the dedicated and experienced team at Sydney Pelvic Clinic can make the entire experience less stressful.
Our Bump Birth & Beyond program includes everything from exercise programs to personalized and tailored health services for new mothers, and all it takes to get started is an easy online assessment. We are ready to guide you through every step of the exciting journey ahead.