Pelvic Floor training – how do we do it and why do we do it?
How do I know if I’m engaging my pelvic floor muscles correctly?
If you can get these exercises down pat before you give birth it will be a lot easier to heal after birth regardless of the type of birth you have. But you don’t necessarily need to have been pregnant to experience pelvic floor dysfunction.
Start by sitting or lying comfortably. Avoid squeezing your buttock or thigh muscles or holding your breath. Engage the pelvic floor muscles by lifting the front and back passage as though you are trying to stop the flow of urine and preventing passing wind at the same time. It may feel like a gentle lift or clench of the vagina and anus. After you have engaged the pelvic floor it is really important that you relax this contraction and feel the pelvic floor gently lower or unclench. Some women have overactive pelvic floor muscles and require a pelvic floor relaxation training program. Women’s health physiotherapist can assess and treat this condition.
Each prenatal session in Bump 24/7 includes guided pelvic floor exercises so you can get these working well and help prevent any leaks.
The postnatal sessions in Bump 24/7 are all about the pelvic floor and will help you recover post-birth and prepare your body for return to exercise. It is a six-week progressive pelvic floor program that you can watch on your phone or computer, and the best part is it has a silent option so if the baby is sleeping you can still follow along with the text on the screen. We recommend doing pelvic floor exercises each time you feed your baby in the first six weeks.
Why do pelvic floor exercises?
A study by Woodley et al (2017) has shown that completing pelvic floor exercises early in pregnancy can prevent urinary incontinence later in pregnancy and postnatally. Current data shows up to a 43% incidence of urinary incontinence during pregnancy (Tincello et al) so while it is common, it is not normal but easily treated.
Marketing tries to normalise incontinence and resolve it with a product, however treating incontinence early on can save from needing to wear pads.
Incontinence isn’t the only condition affecting women with poor pelvic floor function. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a term encompassing a variety of conditions including urinary incontinence, anal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, sensory and emptying abnormalities, defecation dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and chronic pain syndromes (Bump and Norton).
So having a good functioning pelvic floor can prevent incontinence, improve the sexual experience, prevent low back pain, treat pelvic organ prolapse, and is required for safe return to exercise after pregnancy.
- Bump, R., Norton, P., 1998, Epidemiology of natural history of pelvic floor dysfunction. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, 25 (4)
- Tincello, D., Adams, E., Richmond, D.(2002). Antenatal screening for postpartum urinary incontinence in nulliparous women: a pilot study. 101(1) 70-73
- Woodley SJ, Boyle R, Cody JD, Mørkved S, Hay-Smith EJC. Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Dec 22;12(12):CD007471. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007471.pub3. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 May 6;5:CD007471. PMID: 29271473; PMCID: PMC6486304.