The information pregnant and postnatal women are given about this vital subject is, on the whole, far from adequate. If it gets a mention at antenatal classes, ladies are simply told to “lift and squeeze”, “do your pelvic floor exercises regularly” (whatever that means). This is something I feel very strongly about and is part of the reason I do what I do.
From about 5 months into a lady’s pregnancy, there will almost certainly be some weakening of her pelvic floor. This carries certain risks for her long-term pelvic health and core function. Yet it is simply overlooked and just accepted as a ‘normal’ part of being a mum…… it’s not. Common yes, but definitely not normal.
Let’s look at what the pelvic floor is, what it does and the problems that can result from it’s inability to function properly.
The base of the pelvis is made of several muscles, not bone. These muscles together form the pelvic floor which has 3 main jobs, all significant for health and well-being.
The pelvic organs; bladder, bowel and uterus (womb) are held in place by the pelvic floor. If their support weakens, these organs can gradually descend under gravity (prolapse), sometimes to the point that they protrude out of the body. Specific exercises can reverse a slight prolapse but surgery (which isn’t always successful) may be required for more advanced cases.
The muscles which control the release of urine and faeces from the body are embedded within the pelvic floor. Any weakness in the pelvic floor will affect these muscles. Stress incontinence, leaking urine when pressure rises in the abdomen eg. when sneezing or jumping is often the first symptom of pelvic floor weakness. It is an “I need help to strengthen” signal. Take notice and act to save yourself from potential problems in the future. Simply managing the symptoms as many a T.V. commercial would have us do (just wear a pad a get on with life) isn’t going to help in the long run. At menopause muscles generally become weaker as oestrogen decreases. A slight problem now could become a significant, life changing issue further on.
The pelvic floor is part of the core, your stability and support system. If any part of the core is weak, the whole system won’t function correctly. Muscular aches and pains can occur as the body tries to compensate, pelvic and lumbar pain are common symptoms. Balance, posture, movement… all are affected. The core system is a subject in itself, I’ve written a separate blog on it, linked below.
So, if you have noticed any signs of pelvic floor weakness, hopefully I’ve said enough here to convince you to act now, while your body is still responsive to the easier options and not to ignore it until later….
This is just a quick summary. If you would like more information, do take a look at my ebook on the subject when you have a spare 10 minutes; bit.ly/2WQsjWZ