Pregnancy & the Pelvic Floor
What exactly is your pelvic floor and why is it so important?
The pelvic floor is a network of muscles, ligaments and fascia that run from your pubic bone at the front of your pelvis, to the tail bone at the back of your pelvis – picture it kind of like a hammock that supports your bladder, bowel and uterus. But, unlike a hammock, the pelvic floor doesn’t just hang in there, it’s got some pretty important responsibilities!
A functioning pelvic floor allows us to control our bladder and bowel movements, plays an important role in sexual pleasure and actively supports our organs when pressure is placed on them e.g. with coughing or sneezing, or as you dance around the house to your favourite song. The pelvic floor also plays an important role in childbirth, stretching to make room and guide baby as they move through the birth canal.
The pelvic floor works closely with your diaphragm (breathing muscles), abdominal (tummy) muscles, back and hip muscles. This synergy helps to coordinate, stabilise and control how our bodies move and function.
The Pregnancy Rollercoaster:
During pregnancy, your pelvic floor needs to adapt to be able to support your baby as they grow. If your pelvic floor is struggling to keep up, you might experience some symptoms such as urinary leakage or pregnancy-related back or pelvic pain.
Did you know that regular pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy are effective at preventing incontinence both during pregnancy and after birth? Pelvic floor exercise at this time has also been shown to reduce the length of pushing during the second stage of labour.
But before you dive headfirst into a Kegel (pelvic floor exercise) spree, it's crucial to make sure you're completing these exercises correctly. Quality over quantity! Completing pelvic floor exercises incorrectly means that you won’t reap all the benefits and can potentially make conditions such as incontinence, worse.
Our top recommendation? Connect with a healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist with specialised training in all things women's health and pelvic floor. They not only possess the knowledge to guide you through the correct techniques but can also tailor a personalized program that aligns with your individual needs.
Women’s health physios also treat a lot more than the pelvic floor. As you navigate through your pregnancy, keep an eye out for:
• Back or pelvic pain,
• Wrist pain or recurring pins and needles in your hands,
• Urinary leakage,
• Constipation or haemorrhoids, or
• Doming or tenting of your tummy.
While these issues can be common, they aren’t normal. So if you experience any of them it is important that you reach out as early as you can for help.
Article by Liz White, Inlet Physio.
Inlet Physio will be at PBC BABY Expo in Perth.
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