I’m on a personal mission to put tena lady out of business, to end the taboo and stop the ‘fluffy’ and awkward conversations about the parts of our anatomy that have a HUGE impact on the functionality of our whole body.
The sports scientist in me knows just how to keep athletes at the top of their game and I (lovingly) train my mums to be like any other athlete – you have to train specifically for your event, you need to fuel, nourish, educate and listen to your body to prevent over training and injury. You need to taper as the big event draws near, focus on your mental preparation and be at the peak of your performance ability on race (birth) day.
With regards to the pelvic floor it has the job during pregnancy of not only supporting your core and internal pelvic organs, but it has the additional load of your growing uterus, baby, placenta and additional fluids. During labour your pelvic floor works to assist your babies decent into the birth canal. There is so much that can be done during pregnancy to promote a strong and flexible pelvis and pelvic floor – such simple techniques can keep you tena lady free, assist in the progression of labour and accelerate your postnatal recovery too.
Ways to keep you Happy Pelvic floor during pregnancy
No more human cashew nut! Get off your tail bone and sit on your “sit bones’
Get on an exercise ball, get off your ass, get your seat ergonomically adjusted at work. That bucket seat position not only disrupts pelvic floor function but can also give baby a harder time when they are trying to move into the optimal birth position.The pelvic floor seeks a neutral alignment and as pregnancy progresses there is a tendency for us to shift into an anterior tilt (ducks bum). This not only upsets the pelvic floor but compresses the lower back and is a common contributor to low back pain.
Frankie says Relax-in (& oestrogen)
So these clever hormones promote a loosening of the ligaments and tissues to prepare the body for birth, they increase towards the end of our pregnancy. To support the pelvic floor you should focus on building strength in the surrounding muscles that stabilise the pelvis and I’ll be sharing my top exercises that will help with this in my upcoming post about pelvic girdle pain.
More than a Kegel
Like any other muscle in the body we want our pelvic floor to be strong, but also flexible. If you know how to kegel your are kind of doing a mini plank for your pelvic floor (an isometric contraction) and whilst static strength training has it’s place – it doesn’t rank highly on my list for functional, specific birth preparation. At the retreat I will be sharing my favourite exercises that encourage a strong yet flexible pelvic floor – as well as active labour moves that will assist the pelvic floor muscles during labour. Amy Stein has an excellent book “Heal Pelvic Pain” which I would also recommend sticking on your christmas list. Here is Dr Kathy Dooley sharing a great exercise (one of my absolute favourites) that can help both overactive and weak pelvic floor muscles find more optimal function – Pelvic Rocking
Breathe your way to a happy pelvic floor
Your core is not just your abdominal wall – it is a cylinder of awesomeness, think diaphragm, abs, pelvic floor and muscles and fascia at the back of the body. If there is a kink in the circuit dysfunction is never far behind. on average we take 25k breathes – the way you breathe can impact your pelvic floor (don’t worry i’ll be vlogging some top tips very soon)
You’ll learn the magic of down breathing as part of your hypnobirthing toolkit & it can also improve your pooping habits. A huge amount of intra-abdominal pressure is built up in the pelvic floor area when you are straining, holding your breaths or bearing down. For a happy pelvic floor the muscles should be able to relax and knees slightly higher than your hips. Explained brilliantly in this video about a magical pooping unicorn (it will change the way you poop forever) #squattypotty
If you are experiencing any concerns regarding your pelvic floor, most commonly women report that ‘something just doesn’t feel right’, incontinence and pain are other strong indicators then please know that there is absolutely no need to worry about the issue or suffer in silence. During pregnancy most women will be able to self refer to the women health Physiotherapy team, there are also private practitioners and you can also talk to your midwife or GP.
In the majority of cases a specifically tailored exercise programme combined with lifestyle and nutrition have the ability to totally alleviate symptoms and can most certainly prevent a problem from getting any worse.
Look forward to sharing my pre and postnatal pelvic floor pilates techniques at #theretreat in Feb (click here to find out more)