Until you are pregnant, you have no thought as to the importance of your pelvic floor muscles. Chances are, you wouldn’t even know you had any or what they were. Well ladies, undelicate as it may be – those little muscles up there are incredibly important. Not only in the short term and during your pregnancy but, for the rest of your life.
The pelvic floor is the layer of muscle that stretches from your pubic bone in the front to your tail bone at the back, forming the floor of the pelvis. It is the main support structure for the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowel). Clinical evidence shows that in women, the pelvic (levator) muscles or their supplying nerves can be damaged in pregnancy or childbirth. This weakening or damage to the levator muscles contributes to urinary incontinence or, rather leakages. Importantly, these leakages will not just go away by themselves but will continue to get worse until you strengthen them through exercise.
Doing Pelvic Floor (or Kegel) exercises on a regular basis strengthens those muscles and keeps those little leakages at bay. It is incredibly important to do them and start as soon as possible whilst you are pregnant. It is also never too late to start – even if you had your first child 6 years ago – start now! Otherwise, every time you sneeze you may be caught out in the future. And..if you’re a runner or keen sports person, then god help you if you haven’t done your Pelvic Floors.
Personally, when I was pregnant with my first, a friend kindly called me up and scared me witless by telling me that I would never be able to run a half-marathon again without stopping 3 times for toilet breaks. A colleague also told me that she’d read some statistics that every woman who had a child will have real problems with urinary leaks unless they regularly do their pelvic floor exercises.
So…unless you want to suffer later on, get cracking with those exercises now. They are quick and simple to do and only take a few minutes. Also, the beauty of these Kegel exercises is that you can do them ANYWHERE…at the office, in the car, watching TV or doing the dishes. The trick is to associate them either with a regular activity or with a colour that you come into contact with. eg my pregnant colleague does hers every time she sees the colour red. Note – if you see a red-faced lady with her face screwed up sitting at a red traffic light, chances are she is also doing her pelvic floors!
Personally I do mine in the car (only when I’m travelling alone. I used to do it on all car journeys but I got a few comments about how quiet I had gone and how I looked like I was really concentrating and what was I thinking about…so I stopped practising with other people in the car).
So, here is a basic pelvic floor exercise to try:
Just suck your buttocks up and together as though you are stopping yourself go for a pee. Hold for 10 seconds then let it go and do it again. Just keep doing it throughout the day and you’ll find you’ll be able to run for buses once again in the future. I’ve since discovered a blog on Circle of Mums dedicated solely to this very subject! Check it out! http://www.circleofmoms.com/search.php?q=pelvic+floors
PS One last thing – if the above post hasn’t induced you to practise your pelvic floor exercises religiously then try this…regular kegel exercises are proven to lead to better sexual performance and orgasms. Worth a try now, huh?