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Pelvic Floor and Pregnancy

So you're beginning to think about starting a family or even already patiently awaiting Mr. Stork's life-changing delivery? Well, if only it were that simple! There's no denying that parenthood is a magnificent journey, right from the onset. However, even with rose-tinted glasses on, it could never be described as 'easy'!

So, how can we help? Well, here at Kegel8 we want to make sure that your body is fully prepped and up to the challenge. So we've developed a new unit to help you through every stage of this incredible adventure.

Kegel8 Has The Solution:

  • Programmes devised by physiotherapists
  • Locate and exercise pelvic floor muscles
  • Electronically strengthen your pelvic floor in preparation for pregnancy
  • Reduce the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Provide pain relief during labour
  • Aid effective pelvic floor recovery after childbirth

Whichever way you look at it, your body is about to undergo some serious changes! How you choose to prepare it for such changes is entirely at your discretion. The pelvic floor will undoubtedly be stretched to its limits throughout pregnancy and childbirth, supporting additional weight and expanding to accommodate and support your little bundle of joy. A weak pelvic floor can increase the risk of episiotomy or perineal tearing during childbirth, as well as stress incontinence, sexual dysfunction and even pelvic organ prolapse after the birth of your baby. But, have no fear; Kegel8 is here to help you get through this physical challenge.

What Concerns You About Pain Relief During Labour?

  • Inability to push
  • Sickness
  • The effects on your baby's health
  • Intervention of instrumental delivery

So What Are Your Choices?

Epidural and Pethadine

Approximately 30% of women now have an epidural during childbirth[1] - A local anaesthetic administered in the spinal column. However, there are many dangers associated with it. It can result in an assisted delivery (with forceps or ventouse), prolonged second stage of labour, or a drop in blood pressure thereby reducing your baby's oxygen supply. Pethadine (or diamorphine) are strong opiod painkillers that are typically administered via an injection into the buttock or thigh. although effective, these drugs can result in dizziness or nausea. They are also potentially harmful to the baby, causing drowsiness and sometimes affecting breathing.

Entonox (Gas & Air)

Gas and air is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas and remains a popular choice for women in childbirth. It is an effective form of pain relief and doesn't cause any harm to your baby. In fact, the increased level of oxygen can actually be beneficial for them. As for you, you may find it makes you feel sick, sleepy or unable to concentrate but if this is the case you can chose to stop using it. The gas is inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece and takes about 15 to 20 seconds to work. Gas and air can be combined with a TENS machine to create a dual barrier of pain relief. And both are completely controlled by you.

What concerns you about a weakened pelvic floor?

  • Stress incontinence
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Pelvic/abdominal pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Longer recovery after childbirth

So What Are Your Choices?

Bury your head in the sand!

If you have suffered pelvic floor dysfunction as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, ignoring the problem won't make it go away! It could even lead to further complications such as a prolapse. If, however, you have been lucky enough to avoid pelvic floor dysfunction (most likely because you were doing your exercises prior to pregnancy), it remains vitally important to rebuild the muscles. This will reduce the risk of developing problems in the future.

Manual Kegel exercises

Manual Kegel exercises can be highly beneficial if performed correctly. However, research suggests that 50% of women don't know how to produce an effective pelvic floor muscle contraction[2]. This sometimes leads to the larger muscles being worked in error, and can even put additional pressure on the abdomen. What's more, manual Kegel exercises target just 40% of the muscle group you need to work, whilst using an electronic pelvic floor toner can target 90%.

References

  1. CQC. 2010. National NHS patient survey programme: survey of women's experiences of maternity services 2010. London: [online, pdf file] Care Quality Commission, 2010 [Viewed 17/12/13].
    Available from: http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/media/documents/101006_mat10_historical_comparisons_tables_final.pdf
  2. Houser, E and Riley Hahn, S. The Doctor Is In: Women's pelvic health, fact or fiction? [online] John Hopkins University Press, 2012 [viewed 17/12/13].
    Available from: http://jhupressblog.com/2012/10/09/the-doctor-is-in-womens-pelvic-health-fact-or-fiction/