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If you recently had a baby, it’s important to understand your postpartum pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is LARGELY impacted by pregnancy & birth for various reasons.
If you didn’t already know, “Pelvic-perineal dysfunctions, are the most common diseases in women after pregnancy” according to a study done by the Journal of Prenatal Medicine.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
- Leaking urine while you jump, sneeze, walk, or at random times.
- Painful Intercourse
- Painful urination
- Constant painful low back
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Heavy pressure by your rectum or pelvic region
- Distended abdomen with pressure
If any of those things listed above sound familiar, you could benefit from learning a little bit more about your pelvic floor health. So let’s jump in!
What is the PELVIC FLOOR?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the organs in your pelvic floor.
A helpful way to visualize this is by pretending your pelvic floor is a hammock with tons of beach balls stacked on top. The hammock is your pelvic floor, the beach balls are your organs!
These muscles are located just above or ‘around’ your vagina & rectum.
How does pregnancy affect your pelvic floor?
Visualize your pelvic floor with all those organs stacked on top of it (see visual above). Now imagine a bigger, heavier weight growing and pushing those organs up against your pelvic floor. Just constant pressure, constant pushing.
Can you imagine what is happening to those muscles with all that pressure on top of them? They begin to slowly stretch out to accommodate your growing baby. Just like a rubber band, for example.
Not to mention, all those wacky pregnancy hormones causing EVERYTHING to ‘loosen’ up for your baby’s arrival.
Once your baby is born, that poor stretched out muscle doesn’t just pop back into place. It takes time & it takes rehabilitation to tighten things up again.
How can I strengthen my pelvic floor?
Now that you understand a little bit more about this important muscle, it’s also just as important to understand how to help rehabilitate it so that it can be strong again!
One way to strengthen your pelvic floor is by doing pelvic floor exercises postpartum!
There’s a variety of exercises you can do at home or at a pelvic floor specialist’s office to regain the strength of your pelvic floor again.
Below is a shortlist of pelvic floor exercised you can do AT-HOME:
- Kegels – These are a great way to practice contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor. The best way to think about performing these is if you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing. Feel the contraction “tight, up, & in”, then release. Practicing these multiple times throughout the day can make a big difference in strengthening your pelvic floor!
- Glute bridges – Glute bridges are an excellent way to engage your pelvic floor. You’ll want to lay flat on the floor with your feet bent at a 90-degree angle with your arms out to the side. Inhale, lift your hips up until you feel your pelvis ‘lock in place’ at the top (also known as a pelvic tilt). While lifting your hips, really focus on contracting your pelvic floor & glutes. Then bring your hips back down as you relax your muscles. The key to this movement isn’t moving the hips up and down, more so it is feeling and practicing those muscle contractions.
- Basic Core Activation (click for video) – Your core is very involved in supporting your pelvic floor, hence why it’s important to make sure you practice activating it properly after childbirth! Follow along the video to practice at home!
- Bird Dog Stretches – Get down on your hands and knees. Brace your core, and begin lifting your left arm & right leg together until you form a straight line between the two. Keep your head and spine neutral with the goal of not rocking your body around and keeping the core and pelvic floor tight. As you bring your arm & leg back down, alternate to the other sides doing the same thing. These are an excellent movement to engage your core, back, hips, glutes, and pelvic floor.
Try using a Kegel Exerciser (or pelvic floor trainer)
A kegel exerciser is typically a small device that you can insert into your vagina and practice pelvic floor contractions.
These pelvic floor trainers work by connecting to an app via your phone. Then they prompt you to contract at different times and for different lengths at a time!
I know it sounds…well to be honest, kind of weird. In fact, I hadn’t personally heard of them until I was asked to do a review for one myself!
At the time I was about 15 months postpartum and was still dealing with a very weak pelvic floor. I decided to give the Perifit Kegel Exerciser a try!
To my surprise, I noticed a VERY fast change in my ability to feel control over my pelvic floor strength!
It was very simple to use and I really enjoyed the way their app made it fun! Almost like a game as a way of retraining your pelvic floor!
I was no longer ‘leaking a little bit’ when I coughed or sneezed (you know, then having to embarrassingly run to the bathroom and swap out undies). I was no longer feeling that uncomfortable pressure down there when working out.
In total, I used this kegel exerciser for a total of 2.5 months before finding out I was expecting again.
I know I could have benefited from longer use, but due to minimal studies shown about using these exercisers while pregnant, I decided to stop.
If you’re interested to try out the kegel exerciser I used, you can check it out here!
Use a restorative core workout guide in the comfort of your own home!
This is probably my all-time favorite solution because it combines fitness AND core restoration all in one!
In fact, the program I’m talking about is the medically recommended online exercise program for moms/women: The Mutu System!
The Mutu System is an online workout program that uses evidence-based techniques to improve pelvic and abdominal symptoms. These are symptoms many moms experience after pregnancy or birth.
In fact, you can take a look at some REAL RESULTS after using the Mutu System from mamas just like you!
Within the program, their expert trainers will walk you through proper movement, core & pelvic floor engagement and more!
If you’d like to give a try without any risk, you can try their free 10-day challenge! It includes the following (list below from Mutu Website):
- FREE MUTU taster videos including core rehab and intensive exercises
- 10 days of support from your very own certified MUTU Pro
- Accountability and motivation in your private support group
- Daily challenges to help you make progress and feel results
- Live workouts and coaching with your challenge support manager!
- Daily motivation from the Mutu Team
- Text and email reminders
- Online support
Why consider pelvic floor therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy is a great way to get hands-on support, in-person, from a licensed pelvic floor therapist.
You’ll have a thorough physical assessment along with practicing exercises and proper muscular engaging techniques in person.
Need help finding a pelvic floor therapist? Click here to find one near you!
What do they do in pelvic floor physical therapy?
Typically most postnatal physiotherapists will assess your low back and pelvic region, breathing, abdominal contraction, and internal pelvic floor strength.
To summarize, they’re looking at your muscle’s ability to contract, control and relax. In addition, checking for any kind of prolapse.
From there, they will go over your postnatal recovery plan depending on their findings!
Pretty simple, right?
Honestly, I wish we had more postnatal physios near my area. The closest one to me is about 45 minutes away. Unfortunately, with a little one, it was too much of a commute.
However, being able to use the pelvic floor trainer and programs like the Mutu System are a GREAT way for those unable to seek in-person care!