5 Tips to Effectively Strengthen your Pelvic Floor in Pregnancy

  1. Understand what muscles make up your "Pelvic Floor" (more on this below).
  2. See a Pelvic Floor Physio to make sure you're correctly activating & releasing your pelvic floor muscles (see "What to expect when you see a Pelvic Floor Physio").
  3. Attend Prenatal Pilates Classes and use this time to focus on pelvic floor activation.
  4. Make your pelvic floor exercises a daily priority. Whether you've just found out your pregnant, or into your second or third trimester, scheduling daily reminders to focus on your pelvic floor muscles (2-3 times a day) is the best way to effectively strengthen these muscles (we've listed some specific exercises below).
  5.  Maintain a high fibre diet & drink plenty of water to avoid constipation & straining on the toilet.

What muscles make up your pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus and bowel.

The openings from these organs, the urethra from the bladder, the vagina from the uterus and the anus from the bowel pass through the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles attach to your pubic bone at the front and the tail bone at the back and from the base of your pelvis.

What exercises should I be doing to strengthen my pelvic floor?

Kegels the most common exercise people associate with pelvic floor strengthening, which is a great place to start, however there is so much more than "squeezing & releasing" which most of us associate with our Kegel exercises. You also want to focus on endurance of these muscles, and being able to activate them as part of your pilates workouts.

Here are 3 exercises to try:

  1.  Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles (this will feel like you're pulling up from your vagina & anus) for 1 second & release. Relax for 3-5 seconds in between each repetition to ensure you are fully relaxing the muscles. Repeat this 5 times.
  2.  Activate your pelvic floor muscles & hold for 3-5 seconds before releasing. Relax for 5 seconds before repeating this 5 times. Count out loud your 3-5 seconds to ensure you're not holding your breath!
  3.  Practice this activation in your pilates movements - eg a hip bridge, focus on activating your pelvic floor muscles, lifting up into your bridge, holding for 3-5 seconds and releasing back down.

How to know if you're doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly?

There are three things you can focus on at home to check if you're doing the exercises correctly: 

  1. You can feel the squeeze & lift sensation during the exercise, as well as a letting go sensation as you relax the muscles
  2. You're able to keep your abdominal, buttock and thigh muscles relaxed
  3. You can breath & talk during the exercises

Even with the above steps, we strongly recommend seeing a women's health Physio during pregnancy (aka a pelvic floor specialist) who will be able check your muscle activation. If you have never heard of a pelvic floor Physio or you're not sure what to expect, check out our post "What to expect when you see a pelvic floor Physio". 

I was unsure what I should expect, and found most answers on Google to be a bit scary/confronting. I have recently seen a Pelvic Floor Physio myself, so have detailed my experience in this post. 

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