The pelvic floor and abdominal muscles can weaken during pregnancy and birth. This is due to a combination of hormonal changes, additional weight carried through the abdomen during pregnancy, an altered pelvic position during pregnancy and minor trauma sustained to the pelvic floor during delivery.
It’s important to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy to improve bladder and bowel control and provide support to the pelvis when lifting and carrying your baby. It’s also equally important to strengthen the abdominal and gluteal muscles to improve your pelvic support and restore muscle strength.
If you experience any heaviness or dragging sensations around the vagina or back passage then it’s imperative that you see a pelvic health physiotherapist as you may have a prolapse. Prolapse symptoms can be well managed and often resolve with appropriate treatment.
If you experience any urinary or faecal incontinence after having a baby, this is not normal and should be addressed immediately. One in three women will suffer from continence issues in their lifetime, but whilst it’s common, it doesn’t mean you have to put up with the symptoms!
You may want to consider having a postnatal assessment to review your pelvic floor health, your pelvic strength and control and to see if you have a rectus abdominis diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles). The assessment includes:
- Biomechanical assessment (movement analysis) of the pelvis and spine
- Strength assessment of the pelvis and lower limbs
- Review of abdominal separation (rectus abdominis diastasis).
- Pelvic floor assessment. This normally involves an internal examination and includes pelvic floor strength, control, tension and review of any trauma.
- Check for prolapse.
- Assessment of any ongoing postnatal pain (most commonly back, coccyx, sacrum or pubic).
- Treatment plan to address assessment findings and any personal goals you may have including return to exercise, sport, sex, enhanced bladder and bowel function or a return to general day to day activities pain free.