Probaby the last thing you’re thinking about after you’ve had a baby is your postnatal pelvic floor exercise plan.
I get it, I’ve been there! Your focus is on keeping your baby safe and staying awake when you’ve been up all night feeding.
In an ideal world you will be reading this before you have your baby. If you’ve just started maternity leave, this is the perfect time to think about your pelvic floor recovery plan.
So let’s assume we’ve gone back in time and you’re just about to have your baby.
(If you’re reading this with your baby in your arms – hooray for taking the time to think about your pelvic floor.)
I’ll start by telling you more about the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor muscle is an automatic and anticipatory muscle. When the whole body is functioning well, the pelvic floor can do it’s job.
So when there is a problem with the pelvic floor, like leaking, pain or prolapse, the chances are there is an imbalance in other areas of the body.
Muscles, including the pelvic floor, need to be both long and strong. They need strengthening AND stretching.
By just focusing on those squeeze and release exercises, you’re only working on strength. That can often lead to an overactive and tight pelvic floor. And this tight, overactive pelvic floor will not function well when you need it to the most. Like when you sneeze or jump. It will be too tired from all that strength work!
It’s important to see the whole body as being connected. What effects one part of the body, affects another part. So when we feel pain in specific areas, it’s usually because there is an imbalance somewhere else.
A common one is lower back pain. Quite often the causes of lower back pain are weak core or glute (AKA bottom) muscles. The back is compensating for the lack of strength in the core or bottom. It gets tired and starts hurting.
Our bodies are very clever in that they adapt and compensate to help you achieve what you need to. If you’re picking up your your baby, with a weak core, your body will still manage to do it successfully but will use your lower back and neck muscles to bare most of the work. This is when we start to feel pain.
The first part of pelvic floor recovery is having this understanding and accepting that it’s a whole body problem.
The second part is looking at your movement patterns and daily habits to see where you need to make small changes.
Here are 4 areas for you to think about.
Your breath and how you breathe is hugely important for pelvic floor function. In fact it’s massively important for your whole body health, but we’ll focus in on just your pelvis area.
When you breathe in, your pelvic floor relaxes, when you breathe out, your pelvic floor contracts – this is the action you need to stop leaking.
By learning to breathe correctly you can reduce symptoms significantly.
We all fall into bad habits. Maybe you stand more on one leg or with your feet turned out. When you have a baby as well, you’re likely to carry them on your hip – so you’re sticking your hip out for a large part of your day.
This all causes muscle imbalances. It causes tightness in some muscles and fatigue in others.
Common areas that get tight are your calves and hamstrings.
Here’s link to a video to help you improve your stance.
Walking is tremendously good for all round health including your pelvic floor.
What you’ll need to be careful with is how you walk with your buggy or if you’re carrying your child.
If you’re like to carry your child in a sling, then you definitely need to make sure it’s fitted properly and not causing any undue stress on the body.
When you’re out walking with your buggy there might be a tendency to lean forward, stretch out your neck or some other strange position that won’t be good for your body.
As you’re baby gets heavier you’ll also need to make sure your glutes are getting stronger too – as you’ll need those to carry you up those hills with a 20kg pushchair and baby!!!
When you have a young baby you end up sitting down a lot more than you did before. Most of this time is for your baby but of course you will need to rest too.
Working on hip strength really helps to combat all that sitting and helps the pelvis to stay in a neutral position – which is what you want for your pelvic floor.
If you’re having problems with your pelvic floor, I can help you. Have a look at the options for working with me.