By Majda Mehdizadeh
Physiotherapist at Life Ready Physio + Pilates South Perth
Women’s bodies undergo a lot of changes during pregnancy, but no muscle group (except for maybe the abs) undergoes as much stress as the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor muscles run from the front of the pelvis, to the pubic bone, to the back tailbone. Their job is to support the organs inside the pelvis (namely the uterus, bladder and bowel), to control the flow of urine and faeces and to allow sexual intercourse and vaginal births.
How pregnancy weakens pelvic floor muscles
As the baby and belly grows, the pelvic floor muscles are not only expected to support the pelvic organs, but also the additional weight being carried. This puts them under extra pressure.
The pregnancy hormones that allow the pelvis and other joints to soften also impact the pelvic floor muscles, causing them to lose tone as well. The overall picture is one of weakened and stretched muscles.
So how do you know if your pelvic floor muscles are weak?
The most common sign during pregnancy is leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing or laughing. This is because during pregnancy, activating or squeezing the muscles is much more difficult.\
Why should you care about your pelvic floor muscles?
The consequences of not strengthening your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy go beyond the pregnancy itself. They include:
- Urine and/or faecal incontinence
- Prolapse of the uterus, vagina or anus
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lower back pain
- Pelvis pain
How physiotherapy can help
Seeing a physiotherapist sooner rather than later (even before you get pregnant), will help prevent or resolve these issues. Like any muscle group, the pelvic floor muscles have the ability to get stronger and to improve their performance.
No one is better qualified than a women’s health physiotherapist to assess your pelvic floor muscle strength and function and give you a tailored exercise program to address the identified issues. The best part – you can do the exercises anywhere, any time without anyone knowing!
Chat to your physiotherapist at your next appointment to learn more about how we can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Contact us today to make an appointment.