Preparing Your Pelvic Floor For Pregnancy

Deciding that you are ready to have a baby is a big step for you both mentally and physically, and getting your body ready for the event should be your top priority. The muscles of the pelvic floor work tirelessly during pregnancy; supporting the weight of your growing uterus, maintaining your posture, and gently rotating your baby into the correct birth position.


How Will Pregnancy Affect Your Pelvic Floor?

Your pelvic floor is pushed to its limits during pregnancy and becomes weakened as a result. It's not uncommon to feel discomfort as the muscles are extremely vulnerable due to the extra pressure placed on your abdomen. If you are not prepared and your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you are likely to become one of the many women that suffer from pelvic floor disorders during and after pregnancy. Conditions include:

A pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that occurs when your organs lose support from the pelvic floor and are therefore able to' sag' against your vagina. A prolapse can seriously affect the rest of your life, and around 50% of mothers suffer from some degree of prolapse following a vaginal delivery. To prevent this, it's vital that you start to work on maintaining and improving the strength of your pelvic floor whilst you are expecting. To learn more about pelvic organ prolapse, visit our Prolapse pages.


What Can You Do to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor During Pregnancy?

Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises are a great way to help your body during pregnancy. The increase of blood flow and muscle flexibility results in healthy, oxygen-rich tissue being produced. This is a huge benefit within pregnancy as it means that labour can be much shorter, and the recovery period much faster. Toning the pelvic floor also lowers the risk of tearing, as well as the need for an episiotomy or C-section.

Mum-to-be's will undoubtedly be familiar with bladder weaknesses throughout the pregnancy process. However, you don't have to tolerate this. Kegel exercises will also help to keep stress incontinence at bay. To learn more about pelvic floor exercises, visit our Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor Muscles page.


Sources

DeLancey, J.O., Morgan, D.M., Fenner, D.E., et al. (2007). Comparison of levator ani muscle defects and function in women with and without pelvic organ prolapse. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 109, pp. 295-302.

Hoyte, L., Schierlitz, L., Zou, K., Flesh, G., Fielding, J.R. (2001). Two- and three-dimensional MRI comparison of levator ani structure, volume, and integrity in women with stress incontinence and prolapse. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 185(1), pp. 11-19.

Kashyap, R. et al. (2013). Comparative effect of 2 packages of pelvic floor muscles training on the clinical course of stage I-III pelvic organ prolapse. International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 121(1), pp. 69-73.

Morkved, S., Bo, K. (2014). Effect of pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy and after childbirth on the prevention and treatment of urinary incontinence: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 48(4), pp. 299-310.

Pelaez, M. et al. (2013). Pelvic Floor Muscle Training included in a pregnancy exercise programme is effective in the primary prevention of urinary incontinence: A randomized controlled trial. Neurology and Urodynamics. 33(1), pp. 67-71.

Staer-Jensen, J. et al. (2013). Ultrasonographic Evaluation of Pelvic Organ Support During Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 122(2), pp. 329-336.