Pregnancy and Your Pelvic Floor: What You Need to Know
You might have heard mums joking about how they occasionally wet themselves. This is such a common occurrence that many women don’t take it seriously. But incontinence isn’t an inevitable part of having children.
It’s a sign that someone hasn’t done their kegels! Places like France have pelvic floor rehab built into their antenatal care programmes, with every woman given help. This is why French women have far smaller rates of pelvic pain and incontinence than women in other countries. We’re here to give you all the info on how you can recover like a French ‘maman’!
When you’re preparing for pregnancy, you’ll get loads of different pregnancy advice. Pregnancy is one of the most vulnerable times for your pelvic floor muscles, with excess pressure in your abdomen. Your pelvic floor can become dangerously weak from as early as 12 weeks. This is what can eventually lead to conditions like prolapse. Prolapse is when your organs can no longer be held up and sag into your vagina. As you can imagine, it's no laughing matter and will seriously affect the rest of your life. Around 50% of UK mothers suffer from some degree of prolapse after a vaginal delivery! To help stop this from happening, it’s important to start working to maintain the strength of your pelvic floor while you are expecting.
Pelvic floor exercise during pregnancy
It’s a good idea for every woman to do kegel exercises regularly. You can start doing them as a preventative measure as soon as you start trying for a baby. Kegels can be done manually – have a go now while you are reading this! It’s the same motion you'd use when trying to stop the flow of urine while peeing. You should hopefully be getting plenty of opportunities to rest during your pregnancy. Kegels are easy to do while you’re watching tv or reading, so why not multi-task and do your pelvic floor exercises? You might have some other questions about pregnancy – take a look at our Q&A with a post-natal fitness guru for more answers.
Mother Nurture - for better kegels and natural pain relief in labour!
Some women find it difficult to find the right muscles when they do kegels, which can lead to further problems. Research has shown that around 50% of women don’t use the right muscles, putting extra pressure into their abdomen and making weakness worse! This can be avoided with the Kegel8 Mother Nurture Electronic Pelvic Toner & Labour TENS Machine. It’s not suitable for use while pregnant, but you can use it after giving birth to super charge your recovery! Mother Nurture will exercise 90% of your pelvic floor muscles, compared to the 40% reached by manual kegels. Not only that – you can use it as a TENS machine during labour. TENS uses tiny, painless electrical currents to block pain signals and release endorphins – the body’s natural pain relief system. 7 out of 10 mums who used TENS during labour got a significant amount of pain relief from it, all without drugs!
How to do pelvic floor exercises after pregnancy
You should keep up with your kegels post-baby and beyond. Your risk of pelvic floor disorder gets greater as you get older! Menopause is also a factor, so by looking after your pelvic floor you're ensuring good health for the rest of your life. It’s only a few minutes a day and can save you so much pain! There are other things you may want to think about when regaining your pre-baby body. High impact exercise like running and jumping puts a huge amount of pressure on your pelvic floor and should NEVER be done until at least 6 months after giving birth. For further advice on exercising after pregnancy, check out these tips from pelvic expert Dr Joanna Helcke. Or why not have a look at the EVB Sport range of fitness wear? They’ve been specially designed by an engineer and mum of three to give your pelvic floor loads of extra support. EVB Sport Support Leggings make running much safer by reducing the impact it has on your pelvis and abdominals; perfect for new mums!