During your pregnancy, your pelvic floor muscles will loosen due to hormonal changes in your body. This loosening, along with your growing baby pressing on your bladder, may cause you to leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise.
Doing pelvic floor exercises will strengthen these muscles and help you control any accidents. It will also help you ease your baby out and recover faster after the birth.
Where is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They are shaped like a sling and hold your pelvic organs (uterus, vagina, bowel and bladder) in place.
The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel, and give you control when you urinate. They relax at the same time as the bladder contracts (tightens) to lets the wee out.
Why are women encouraged to do pelvic floor exercises when pregnant?
If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you can start doing pelvic floor exercises straight away. The exercises will lower your risk of experiencing incontinence after having your baby.
Weakened pelvic muscles can cause problems, such as urinary incontinence and reduced sensitivity during sex. There is also a risk of pelvic organ prolapse, where one or more of the pelvic organs bulges into the vagina.
Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where small amounts of urine leak out during an activity. Doing pelvic floor exercises can help to improve stress incontinence by keeping your pelvic muscles strong.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. However, it is not recommended that you regularly stop your flow of urine midstream, because it can be harmful to the bladder.
To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10 to 15 times in a row. Do not hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock or thigh muscles at the same time.
When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. Every week, you can add more squeezes, but be careful not to overdo it and always have a rest between sets of squeezes.
After a few months, you should start to notice the results. Your incontinence should improve, as well as the sensitivity you experience during sex. You should carry on doing the exercises, even when you notice them starting to work.
Why are pelvic floor exercises important for labour and birth?
During labour many women feel the urge to go for a poo, this is not a poo, but instead the baby nicely in the birth canal ready to be born. If you have practiced tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor during pregnancy, you will automatically know how to relax your pelvic floor at the time of giving birth. This helps put less strain on your body and you are likely to minimise any damage to this area.
After birth, continue to practice these exercises, in fact, it is recommended never to stop practicing them, as with age this muscle becomes looser, so the longer you can keep it toned, the longer you will reap the benefits.
About Magical Baby Moments
Magical Baby Moments offers group hypnobirthing courses in Romford and Upminster, and private courses across Essex and London. Check online at http://www.magicalbabymoments.com/classes to find out upcoming dates.
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