Here’s a question for moms: How much did you know about your pelvic floor before pregnancy and parenthood?
As a twice blessed parent , I know how important this knowledge is in dealing with postpartum problems – especially those with bladder and core care issues. I wish someone prepared me for all this way before I even thought about having kids.
Would-be mamas, this blog post is for you.
When I was pregnant for the first time, people told me to prepare for bladder and/or core trouble. This means, after childbirth, I would likely suffer from urinary incontinence – in plain language, problems with holding my pee – for the rest of my life.
It’s a common belief that’s partly backed by evidence. Many pregnant people experience this to some degree, and this type of incontinence can continue to manifest way after giving birth. Instances of mild to severe involuntary urination can happen up to three months postpartum , but it’s easy to prevent it from becoming a lifelong condition.
There’s no shame in this by the way! One in three women will suffer from one or more pelvic floor disorders within their lifetime, symptoms of which include bladder and core trouble.
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that sits like a sling within the perineal area of the body, near your reproductive system. It connects to your anus, bladder, rectum, urethra, and vagina. The pelvic floor muscles control movements of your urethra and vagina – which is why it’s often mentioned in bladder, core care and sexual health.
Engaging your pelvic floor doesn’t happen only during sex. It’s active when you sit down, stand up, go to the bathroom, exercise, and more.
It’s a myth that Kegel exercises are all you have to do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. That said, Kegel exercises are the most popular way to engage that part of your body.
Most people say that you can learn how to do these exercises by pretending to urinate and then pretending to hold it in for 3 to 5 seconds at a time. It’s important to keep your abdomen, buttocks, and thigh muscles relaxed throughout, though. Otherwise, you’re not doing it right. If it helps, think of the internal motion as drawing up and in rather than squeezing–think zipping up your jeans.
The usual recommendation is to do Kegel exercises up to three times a day. After about six weeks, you should notice an improvement when you go to the bathroom.
Some people may enhance their Kegel exercises by using special equipment , such as the Elvie Trainer or the LoRox Body Sphere.
If you feel like you would benefit from seeing an accredited pelvic floor therapist, do so. Ask your OB-GYN for a referral.
It’s worth noting that pelvic floor therapy is more than a Kegel exercise program. Specialized physical therapists use visualization techniques, core workouts, yoga poses, adjustments to body posture and movements, and more. If your postpartum problems are more complicated than occasional urinary incontinence, you should consider seeing a professional.