Both childbirth and pregnancy can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which can cause new mums a certain amount of discomfort and embarrassment when doing every day things like coughing, sneezing and many kinds of aerobic exercise.
In case you’re not completely sure where they are, your pelvic floor is a set of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that supports your pelvic organs, including bladder, bowel, uterus and vagina.
These important muscles become weakened, stretched and looser during pregnancy, thanks to the weight of the baby, hormones and the pressures of labour. This can mean that, post birth, you may not have full control of your bladder, especially when sneezing or jumping up and down!
If you’re itching to get back to fitness, getting your pelvic floor strengthened before you undertake any kind of vigorous exercise can be a great idea…
Here are three ways to help…
1. Kegels – everywhere!
Also known simply as pelvic floor exercises, Kegels help to get your pelvic floor back to normal and the good news is, you can do them anywhere, at any time. You can find yours by using the same muscles you’d use if you tried to stop having a wee, mid flow.
The NHS advises that, to strengthen these muscles, relax, sit, and squeeze them 10-15 times, and try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. Get the lowdown here, and you can do them anywhere – on the bus, in the library, at baby group…
2. Become a squat devotee
Doing squats in the comfort of your home can be a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor. Squats engages your glutes, which helps to get your pelvic floor back to its pre-baby best.
Start off slow, and build up to do more and more reps each day. Make it part of your daily routine and you’ll soon see a difference.
3. Pilates for the win!
Pilates is a great way to strengthen your entire core, which includes your pelvic floor. Pilates as a whole helps you to engage and connect with your muscles, your body, and your breathing – and using your diaphragm properly will really help you to both tighten and relax your pelvic floor muscles deeply and precisely.
Although pilates DVDs and streamed classes can be a great start, seeking out a local class and talking to the instructor about your particular needs would be hugely beneficial. An experienced teacher will be able to help and guide you in class, ensuring that you gain the maximum benefit from every session.
You can find your local Pilates classes by visiting https://www.pilatesnearyou.co.uk
As with all exercise after giving birth, wait until you feel ready, and check with your midwife or health visitor if you’re unsure (and especially if you have had stitches or a section).
If you have any tips for getting your pelvic floor back to its best, let us know!