Following on from the previous blog explaining what the pelvic floor actually is, this blog aims to tell you how to exercise the pelvic floor after having a baby.
When you exercise your pelvic floor, nobody should be able to notice you are doing it. The sensation should be to lift the pelvic floor up, rather than squeeze it together (as squeezing encourages other muscles to kick in also). Think about lifting the back passage (as to stop wind) and lifting all the way to the front (as to stop urinating). It is a subtle feeling of lifting up inside yourself. Some find it helpful to think about an elevator lifting up one floor at a time.
We need the muscles to have good endurance (so they are working all the time) and also good strength (so they support us when we cough, sneeze, jump etc).
Starting position for pelvic floor exercises.
How To Exercise Your Pelvic Floor
Exercise for Pelvic Floor Endurance:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent up (as in the picture above).
- Take a deep breath into your tummy keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- As you breathe out, gently lift up the pelvic floor.
- Try to maintain the lift for as much as the out breath as you can (it may only be for a second to start but as you get better aim to hold the lift for the whole of a very long, slow breath out).
- Take another deep breath in and relax your pelvic floor.
- Start by doing 2-3 breathing cycles, aiming over time to repeat for 2 sets of 6 breath cycles.
Exercise for Pelvic Floor Strength:
- Same starting position as above.
- Lift up your pelvic floor as quickly and as forcefully as you can.
- Hold this lift for a second as hard as you can.
- Fully relax the pelvic floor.
- Repeat again straight away as forcefully as you can.
- Again, start with 2-3 repeats, building to 10 repeats over time.
Perform endurance and strength exercises daily.
Things To Look Out For:
- Breath holding – your pelvic floor works with your breathing so it is important to do it WITH the breath. Holding your breath is often an easier way of engaging but it's important NOT to do this.
- Remember to think about relaxing the pelvic floor as you start to breath in again. Not relaxing the pelvic floor can cause over tightness.
- When you feel fatigued or you can’t quite get the same contraction or lift, STOP take a moment and reset. Over time you will get stronger and able to do more.
- Try to do them in a relaxed and quiet environment so you can fully concentrate, it should only take a few minutes to complete the exercises.
Pelvic Floor muscles are just the same as other muscles. Just as you would rehab a calf muscle after a calf strain, it is just as important to train your pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy and birth!
Do these exercises daily and it will have a huge impact on your pelvic floor function!
If you are struggling with any of the above, see a women’s health physio specialist.
Article provided by pre & postnatal physiotherapy & exercise specialist - Emily Burmester. Project Physio