Finding Your Pelvic Floor- A Postpartum Guide To Rehabilitation
Okay… lets clear the air… did you know 1 in 3 women who have had a baby wet themselves?
It is not something that is often spoken about, but these are the stats. Unfortunately, many women think that this is something that can not be resolved.
Understanding Your Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is made up of a layer of muscles and other tissue. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone at the front.
Why do postpartum women have problems with leaking?
The baby stretches the nerves and pelvic floor muscles that keep the bladder shut as it moves through the birth canal. Leaking can happen when you cough, sneeze, lift or exercise. You may feel the urgency to empty you bladder or have trouble holding on.
Can this muscle be retrained?
First of start by learning what it feels like to engage these muscles.
Where is my pelvic floor?
Sit or lie down with the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and stomach relaxed. Squeeze the ring of muscle around the anus (back passage) as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Now relax this muscle. Squeeze and let go a couple of times to be sure you have found the right muscles. Remember, do not squeeze your buttocks!
This can be something you start doing in the week post birth. But note, that it might take time (even weeks) to find your pelvic floor again. Go easy and take your time)
Once you can feel your pelvic floor, you can start the training process.
Now, let’s train!
- LONG HOLDS- Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your anus (back passage) and vagina at the same time. Lift them UP inside. Feel a sense of lift each time you squeeze your pelvic oor muscles. Hold them strong and tight as you count to eight. Then, let them go and relax. You should have a distinct feeling of letting go. If you can’t hold for the count of eight, just hold for as long as you can. Repeat your long holds for 8 times
- SHORT HOLDS- Repeat this squeeze and lift for 1 second as many times as possible. Aim for 8-12 holds. Repeat this 2-3 times
The key with training is to do this each day in a variety of positions (standing, sitting, laying, etc). Always remember to breath normally, picture the squeeze and lift, do not squeeze your buttock muscles or thighs.
Keep a journal
There is nothing better than feeling yourself getting stronger. Keep a record of how many seconds you can hold a long hold for and how many squeezes you can do in a row. Keep a record of this at the 1 month, 3 month and 6 months mark.
Make it part of your routine
To help you remember to do these exercises, make it a routine to do it at the sometime each day and pair it with a daily task, like taking a shower, feeding the baby, brushing your teeth.
Did you find this article helpful? Read more postpartum articles here.
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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