Being pregnant and giving birth puts enormous demands on our bodies. Most women after having a baby have a weakness in either their tummy or pelvic floor muscles. And with 66% of women with abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and/or experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, it is really important to improve the link between the abdominal wall, pelvic floor and diaphragm.
As you read the words ‘pelvic floor’, you may be searching for those elusive muscles that you know you should be squeezing, but let’s be honest, pelvic floor exercises rarely make it to the top of the to-do-list. And, for those who do their regular pelvic floor exercises did you know that 30% of you may be doing them incorrectly?
Guidance is key to not only optimising your exercise routine, but also prevent you from doing more harm than good.
So, what is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is part of a core group of muscles and is central to your body working as a finely tuned system. They have 5 main functions including;
- Movement mechanics
- Fluid drainage
- Continence (bowel and bladder)
- Support of the pelvic organs (uterus, bowel, bladder)
- Sexual function
But the pelvic floor is not something women really learn about, despite these really important functions. With 1 in 3 women having some form of pelvic floor dysfunction, it’s obvious that this is an area we should be talking about and looking after!
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to women’s health and this is a downfall of the current pelvic floor market. Kegels is at the forefront of the pelvic floor battle; however, this may not be the answer for many women and it is important to say at this point that leaking can still happen if your pelvic floor is too tight.
It is important to understand the root cause of your problem, not just address the symptoms.
The key is to get pelvic floor smart before any symptoms develop, and to have a good understanding of what your body is having to work through.
A post-natal MOT is something I think every woman should have following the birth of a child. It can give insightful knowledge of what has happened to your body, and what needs to be done to improve it.
The post-natal MOT
The post-natal MOT involves a detailed obstetric history, followed by an assessment of the abdominal and pelvic area.
We look at posture, breathing, tummy gap (diastasis recti), and pelvic floor health.
This includes any current or potential prolapses, a weakness or tightening of the pelvic floor, as well as any scaring from C-sections, tears or episiotomy’s.
A safe exercise programme is usually given, as well as any advice for prevention of potential issues.
Understanding of the mechanisms of childbirth and possible damage is now better understood. The main risk factors for pelvic floor damage are forceps which triple the risk of pelvic floor tears, large babies, and a long second stage of delivery. This puts women at a higher risk of prolapse, so it is so important to know how to improve your condition and prevent this from happening.
1:3 of you reading this will have a problem ranging from incontinence to prolapse. These symptoms are common but should not be normalised as they can always be improved.