Many women only start thinking about their pelvic floor after pregnancy, however, preparing your pelvic floor before pregnancy is equally important. Getting your pelvic floor ready for childbirth has many benefits and can significantly improve your overall pregnancy experience and postpartum recovery.
Your pelvic floor muscles can be likened to a hammock – they sit at the bottom of your pelvis and help keep your bladder, uterus, vagina and bowel in the right place. During pregnancy, your pelvic floor holds the weight of your growing baby, and of course, during childbirth plays a pivotal role in the delivery. When you have strong pelvic floor muscles you can reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy for a smoother delivery and improved postpartum recovery.
The key benefits of preparing your pelvic floor for childbirth include:
Reduced risk of incontinence: Pelvic floor preparation can help prevent urinary incontinence, which is a common issue after pregnancy.
A more comfortable pregnancy: When your pelvic floor muscles are strong they can better support your growing belly and reduce discomfort.
Easier childbirth: For some women, a prepared pelvic floor can make labour and delivery less challenging. By understanding how to breathe through contractions and ensuring your pelvic floor muscles are opening and relaxing with vaginal delivery, you may experience a smoother and less challenging childbirth.
Faster postpartum recovery: Strong pelvic floor muscles can help you to recover more quickly after childbirth and return to exercises sooner
Muscle restoration: Restoring appropriate muscle length and co-ordination for hypertonic or overactive pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor exercises: By doing regular pelvic floor exercises you can strengthen the muscles and improve endurance. Quick flick pelvic floor exercises work with your nervous system, increasing your reflex time/pelvic floor squeeze, very handy when you get that sudden urge to pee.
A physiotherapist may also teach you reverse kegels to restore muscle length. Reverse kegels or pelvic floor muscle downtraining are beneficial in the weeks leading up to your vaginal delivery. Working with an experienced physiotherapist will ensure you have the right techniques when doing pelvic floor exercises.
Pelvic tilts: Pelvic tilts can help your lower back and pelvis stay flexible and activate all of those important muscles attaching to the pelvis. Lie on your back with your knees bent, then tilt your pelvis upward and hold for a few seconds.
Bridge exercises: Another good strengthening exercise. You can target your glutes and your pelvic floor muscles through bridge exercises. Lie on the ground with a foam wedge supporting your upper back, bend your knees and lift your hips by squeezing through your glutes. This may be a bit more challenging in the later trimester of pregnancy, but doing these exercises elevated/inclined may still be of benefit.
Pregnancy Yoga and Pilates: Both are great low-impact exercises that work to improve pelvic floor flexibility and strength. Ensure you have connected with an instructor that is trained in antenatal yoga/pilates to ensure they can modify exercises appropriately for you and tailor a program specifically to the needs of your pregnant body.
Preparing your pelvic floor for childbirth will also benefit your long-term pelvic health. Strong pelvic floor muscles can help reduce the risk of issues such as prolapse and incontinence that may arise later in life.
Don’t wait until pregnancy to start thinking about your pelvic floor. At Grace Private, our experienced Gold Coast physiotherapists are here to support you, guiding you through the process of preparing your pelvic floor for childbirth and beyond.
Our physiotherapists Debra Miller and Elle Pidgeon will tailor a program to your specific needs, helping you to prepare your pelvic floor muscles to ensure lifelong pelvic health. They have the knowledge and experience to support you every step of the way, ensuring you have the best possible experience during pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond.
To book an appointment, contact us online or call 07 5594 7632