Pregnancy and childbirth can put a lot of stress on a woman’s pelvic floor muscles, which can ultimately cause pelvic health issues. Understanding what you can do to promote pelvic health during pregnancy is important to minimize the risks of developing these problems.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum. These muscles act as a “sling” to hold these structures in place. They also play a crucial role in controlling urination, bowel movements, and sexual function.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Pelvic Health?
During pregnancy, the growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, causing them to stretch and weaken. This stretching can result in problems with bladder or bowel control, as well as pelvic organ prolapse, which is when organs like the bladder, uterus, or rectum shift from their normal position and protrude into the vagina.
In addition, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the pelvic floor to become more relaxed, leading to urinary and fecal incontinence, as well as pain during intercourse.
What Can You Do to Promote Pelvic Health During Pregnancy?
Kegel exercises are the best-known pelvic floor exercises. They involve contracting the muscles that control urination, holding the contraction for several seconds, then releasing. These exercises can be done anytime and anywhere, and can help strengthen and tone the muscles that support the pelvic organs.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, causing them to weaken faster than they would otherwise. Maintaining a healthy weight can help support the pelvic floor and prevent damage during pregnancy.
3. Practice Good Posture
Poor posture can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, so it’s essential to maintain good posture during pregnancy. This means sitting and standing up straight, with your shoulders back and your feet shoulder-width apart.
4. Avoid Heavy Lifting & Straining
During pregnancy, it’s important to avoid lifting heavy objects or straining too much, as this can also cause damage to the pelvic floor muscles.
5. Seek Help When Needed
If you’re experiencing pelvic health issues during pregnancy, don’t be afraid to seek help. A pelvic health physical therapist can work with you to alleviate symptoms, develop a personalized exercise plan, and prepare you for childbirth.
In conclusion, taking care of your pelvic health during pregnancy is important. Focus on good habits like maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, avoiding heavy lifting, and doing Kegels daily. Additionally, it’s critical to seek help when pelvic health problems arise, as they often can be successfully treated with proper medical attention. By doing so, you can support your pelvic floor and enjoy a healthy, comfortable pregnancy.