Mamas and Mamas-to-be: exercise that pelvic floor!
We all know it is important to exercise our body in order to keep it strong and lean, but did you know the pelvic floor needs exercise too? In honor of the fast-approaching Mother’s Day, MedAmour presents the first in a series of posts about keeping the pelvic floor healthy for today and every day.
The pelvic floor is like a trampoline. It consists of muscles and ligaments supporting the bladder, bowels and uterus. It can stretch in response to weight, but if it bears weight for a long time, as it does during pregnancy, the muscles or tissues can become stretched and weakened. Keeping it strong before pregnancy can help prevent damage to the uterus, bladder and other pelvic floor organs during a vaginal delivery. A vaginal delivery could potentially lead to urinary incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse. This affects approximately seventy percent of women during or after pregnancy. This may seem like a grim figure but there is hope!
There are many issues and conditions that contribute to becoming incontinent or have pelvic floor prolapse after giving birth including a long delivery where the woman is pushing for more than 90 minutes, larger birth weights of 10lbs or more, and age. Other contributing factors include having a poor diet, being overweight and smoking.
To help prevent issues after delivering, consider the following.
Exercise your pelvic floor!
Exercise your pelvic floor before, during and after pregnancy. If you’re not sure how, we have an easy-to-follow graphic that can help you. If you want a little more help, try a kegel exerciser like kegel balls, the FDA-Approved Vibrance or other devices specifically designed to help with pelvic floor strength and assistance with incontinence.
Listen to what the Doctor says
Dr. Mary Jane Minken, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine who also has a private practice in New Haven, Connecticut is a big proponent of Kegel exercise and encourages her patients to Kegel regularly. “I always tell my patients; to me, Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) are like the Ads for the musical Cats, remember how they used to advertise it? Cats-now and forever!” When one strengthens their pelvic floor muscles it helps improve circulation to the vaginal and rectal area. It can help prevent hemorrhoids, as well as possibly assist the healing process after an episiotomy or tear from childbirth.
Other simple things you can do to help your pelvic floor and reduce the risk of incontinence after childbirth is to control your weight, stop smoking, prevent constipation with a diet high in fiber and eat plenty of protein post-delivery to help heal the muscles.
Doing pelvic floor exercises before and after pregnancy one will not only help improve muscle tone to the vagina, but also decrease the risk of having leakage and or becoming incontinent. And, bonus points: it will make sex much more pleasurable. Who can argue with that?