Pelvic health is crucial for a person’s healthcare routine but is often overlooked and disregarded by many. Most women only think about pelvic health until they get pregnant or have given birth. Others only start giving it serious thought when they experience urinary incontinence, which means unintentional passing of urine.
It’s necessary to get a regular pelvic health checkup. It is especially important for women since it can help you detect early signs of severe conditions and diseases such as uterine fibroids, early-stage cancer, ovarian cysts, or sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, a regular pelvic checkup, which includes tests such as a pelvic sonogram are also essential for women planning on getting pregnant. An early pregnancy check would help them detect issues that could get in the way of their goals.
So, let’s focus on the importance of pelvic floor health. We’ll start with the definition of Pelvic floor, helping you understand what it exactly means.
The Meaning of Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is made up of tissues and muscles between the bony parts of the pelvis. The pelvic floor is responsible for supporting the functions of bowel movements, urination, pregnancy, and intercourse. It is also responsible for keeping the bladder, reproductive organs, and intestines in place.
The pelvic floor features the group of muscles and ligaments attaching to the front of the pubic bones and the tail bone’s back from the pelvis base. A strong pelvic floor is particularly important before, after, and during pregnancy as it helps in preventing involuntary loss of feces and urine, along with prolapse of the organs supported by the part.
These reasons make it necessary for women to get some pelvic floor exercises. It is because getting some pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy will help in preventing stress and issues such as incontinence during pregnancy, especially when there is added weight on the muscles and bladder. At the same time, it also helps with post-pregnancy stages and potentially difficult labor. Moreover, as you strengthen pelvic muscles with the help of pelvic exercises for pregnancy, they help you with proper push while giving birth.
What Happens to My Pelvic Floor When I am Pregnant?
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor will stretch itself to make ample room for the growing baby inside. With time, the muscles become weak as they are continuously weighed down. Rather than bouncing back to deliver ample support, the weakened muscles might not be able to return to the optimal location after pregnancy.
As a result, you might notice that it becomes difficult to control your urinary movements, especially as your pregnancy will enter its second and third trimesters. It is because a weakened pelvic floor will make it difficult to squeeze the muscles responsible for preventing urine from escaping the bladder.
Why is Taking Care of My Pelvic Floor Important for My Health and the Health of My Baby?
As a pregnant woman, it is imperative for you to ensure proper health of the pelvic floor -both for your health and your baby’s. To ensure the same, it is important to know about pelvic floor health exercises that will strengthen the area for added pressure and movements.
As you commence your pregnancy journey with a strong pelvic floor, it will minimize the overall damage experienced by the muscles of the region, especially under the pressure of your growing child. A healthy and strong pelvic floor will make your delivery process less risky. It is because you will be effectively equipped for labor, implying less stress for your baby.
Whether you deliver through a C-section or normal delivery, the pelvic floor muscles undergo immense strain and stretching. When you have a healthy pelvic floor, it means that you can recover quickly and effectively after childbirth.
On the other hand, a weakened pelvic floor will result in pelvic floor prolapse. It is a condition in which pelvic organs tend to move out of the designated space and eventually move towards your vagina. Therefore, it can lead to painful intercourse and make other normal activities painful and uncomfortable. Learn about the causes of pelvic pain, with our detailed guide on pelvic pain in women, which also shares common treatment options.
What can I do to Make My Pelvic Floor Healthier?
There is no denying the fact that both pregnancy and childbirth put immense pressure on your pelvic floor and are causes of weak pelvic floor muscles. However, you can ensure proper steps or exercises to strengthen the area, especially if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or have children. The best way to ensure a healthy pelvic floor is by doing proper pelvic floor exercises to prep for pregnancy. However, you should consult a doctor before straining yourself and get a doctor-approved list of exercises to do pre and post-pregnancy.
Some of the common ways to strengthen the pelvic floor are:
- Engaging in safe and easy pelvic floor exercises to ensure strong pelvic muscles, including Kegel exercises, bridges, and pelvic tilts
- Offering yourself ample time to rest as well as recover after exertion or exercise
- Avoiding activities and exercises that put excess pressure on the abdomen -particularly during 2nd and 3rd trimesters
- Maintaining a healthy body weight and ensuring healthy weight gain during pregnancy
You can consult a pelvic floor specialist pregnancy expert to know about the right pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy. A professional can help you better understand the problems with your pelvic floor. Due to this, most women tend to commit the mistake of holding their breath while exercising or leveraging extra muscles unnecessarily.
Effective Exercises to Boost Your Pelvic Floor
While understanding different pelvic floor exercises during or after pregnancy, it is important to know about the right technique to do so. Some effective and safe options for pelvic floor exercises are:
Squeeze & Release: It is important to identify your pelvic muscles by properly clenching them. You should start by finding the right position that will work the best for your body. It could be sitting, lying on the back, standing up, or even bending over on the knees and hands.
Start the exercise by closing your eyes and identify the pelvic muscles again by pretending not to pass urine. Hold your muscles as tight as possible for around 3-4 seconds. Eventually, release the pressure gradually. When you do this exercise correctly, you will feel the pelvic muscles squeezing up inside before going back down again. If you are able to do it longer, you should do it, however it shouldn’t exceed for more than 8 seconds.
You can think of repeating this exercise and stopping between subsequent reps for around 10 reps. Try doing this every day around 3 times every day. Every time you do it, try a different position. You can also aim at tightening the pelvic muscles as strong and hard as you can. Do this for only 1-2 seconds and then release them. Do around 10-20 reps while squeezing and resting for some seconds. If you are able to do it around 3 times every day, you will observe better results.
The Hundred: You can come across different types of clinical Pilates exercises that you can do to strengthen the overall core and in relations the pelvic floor. An effective way to do this exercise is by lying on your back and bringing your knees upon into the tabletop, raised position. Try raising your head by contracting the pelvic muscles and extending your arms in front of you -on either side of the thighs.
Eventually, you can go ahead with extending your legs to around 45-degree angle. Start pumping your arms up & down around 100 times. During the exercise, remember breathing in & out throughout.
Quick Flick Kegels: The exercise involving quick flick Kegels will ensure contractions of the pelvic muscles. This helps in activating the pelvic muscles faster and making them stronger to prevent leaks upon coughing or sneezing. Important steps to follow are:
- Start by lying on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent on the floor. As the exercise and position becomes easier, you can try standing or sitting while performing the same.
- Take stock of your pelvic muscles.
- Start by exhaling, and contract the pelvic muscles. Quickly ensure contraction and release the pelvic muscles. Aim for achieving contraction for around 1-2 seconds before you release the muscles
- Ensure that you are breathing steadily throughout.
- Repeat the steps around 10-20 times. Rest for around 10-15 seconds. Repeat 2-3 sets.
Marches: A marching exercise will encourage contracts of the pelvic floor muscles and improve core stability. Steps to follow are:
- Start by lying on the floor with your pelvis in a neutral position and knees bent.
- Inhale properly into the rib cage, exhale through the mouth -allowing your ribs to compress naturally.
- Draw the pelvic floor up & lock in the core.
- Gradually, lift one leg and bring about a tabletop position.
- Gradually, lower down this leg to the normal position.
- Repeat this movement by alternating legs.
Just as you might consider hiring a professional personal trainer to offer assistance at the gym, you can work with your gynecologist or pelvic floor specialist to know about the right way to do pelvic floor exercises.
Don’t you think you have ignored your pelvic health for too long, and it’s high time to focus on your pelvic health? We have shared guidelines and some exercises that can help you improve pelvic health both during and after pregnancy. Your pelvic floor will play a vital role in determining your overall health throughout your life. It is never too early or late to start focusing on your pelvic health. Refer to our comprehensive pelvic pain guide to learn all you can about pelvic pain during pregnancy.
If you are suffering from pelvic pain and are looking for a reputed healthcare specialist who can offer you pelvic pain treatment, we would be happy to help you.
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