Should I be training my pelvic floor after pregnancy?

And the next most common question… why?
Clare Bourne was a guest speaker at Being Fest earlier this month, sharing all there is to know about Pelvic Floors!

Yes – you should absolutely be training your pelvic floor after pregnancy
The pelvic floor muscles are one of the most important muscles to train and strengthen after birth, and it doesn’t all have to be boring. The pelvic floor are one of the muscles most impacted by pregnancy and birth and so need some TLC. During pregnancy the weight of carrying a baby around weakens and lengthens the muscles, therefore like any other muscle that is weak, we use exercise to strengthen them.

The pelvic floor muscles might be small and easy to forget but they carry some serious weight, in more ways that one. Their role in our life is hugely important, and we often don’t recognise it until it’s gone or changed.

So what do they do:

  • They keep us continent of urine & faeces – pretty important I am sure you will agree
  • They provide support for our pelvic organs (the bladder, bowels and womb)
  • They contribute to our sexual pleasure – very important!
  • They provide support to the pelvic bones

So as you can see they have multiple important roles for our health and bodies, and therefore it is really important we take care of them.

When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises after giving birth? How will I know that my body is ready?

Pelvic floor exercises are the first exercise you can start doing after birth, regardless of the type of delivery you have. Yes, they are still important after caesarean section as pregnancy has a huge impact on them.

The general rule is once you have done your first wee after birth, for some this will be after their catheter has been removed, you can start gentle squeezes.

It is often feared if you have some stitches in the vagina, however gentle pelvic floor can actually help to reduce swelling which in turn helps to reduce pain. It is normal for some women to really struggle to feel any activation or movement in the muscles at this stage due to the pain and swelling as this inhibits the muscle contraction, however keep trying and eventually you will start to feel more working.

What are your top 3 exercises to do post birth to look after my pelvic floor?  

I love to bring pelvic floor into all exercises after birth, using your breath to encourage pelvic floor activation throughout movement. Some great exercises to start with are:

  1. Deep breathing: lying down, place one hand on your chest and one on your tummy. Take a deep breath into your tummy. As you breathe out gently contract your pelvic floor. The best way to do this is to imagine you are holding wind and then add on holding urine. This helps you to feel both parts of the pelvic floor activating. Then make sure you fully relax.
  2. Shoulder bridge: lie on your back with your knees bent. Have your heels close to your bottom, so you can almost touch them with your hands. Gently flatten your back into the mat and lift your bottom up. As you do this think about contracting your pelvic floor and breathing out. Be careful not to lift too high and then gently peel your back down onto the mat.
  3. Sit to stand squats: As mums we squat a lot, so it is a great exercise to do and encourage our pelvic floor to work throughout our daily life. Starting from a chair can help you work on technique. Sit on the edge of a chair or your sofa and place a loop resistance back around your legs just above your knees( if you have one.) Push your knees out into the band, lean your body forwards and push through your heels. As you stand up, exhale and contract your pelvic floor. Lower yourself to the chair so your bottom just touches and then stand again.

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