It may feel taboo — how often did you think about, let alone talk about, your pelvic floor before becoming pregnant?
Pregnancy can bring a lot of changes for a woman — emotionally and physically. While it can be easy to talk about the joys and challenges of navigating motherhood or a growing family, it’s not always easy to talk about changes to your body.
It may feel taboo — how often did you think about, let alone talk about, your pelvic floor before becoming pregnant? Knowing your body and talking about any changes with your doctor during and after pregnancy can help you take steps to keep your pelvic floor healthy.
What is the pelvic floor?
- It’s a broad sling of muscles, ligaments and sheet-like tissues that stretch from your pubic bone at the front of your body to the base of your spine at the back.
- Think of it like a trampoline: It can stretch in response to weight and bounce up again.
What does the pelvic floor do?
It supports the bowel, bladder and uterus, and you may know it from its star role in helping you know when you need to go to the bathroom. Ever had a little urine escape when you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise? Your pelvic floor may not be as strong as you think.
The pelvic floor also affects vaginal muscles. If the pelvic floor is strained and weak, vaginal sex may be less satisfying and there can be less sensitivity. It also can mean that your bowel, bladder and uterus are not well supported, causing a heavy, dragging sensation.
Want to learn more abut your pelvic health?
Join us for a free class, “Your Pregnancy and Your Pelvic Health.” A trained physical therapist will teach techniques to help you keep your pelvic floor healthy during and after pregnancy.
The interactive class includes a lecture, question-and-answer session and an assessment.
Being pregnant can place a lot of stress on the pelvic floor muscles, overstretching and weakening them as early as 12 weeks into a pregnancy. Constipation, a common side effect during pregnancy, can put even more strain on the pelvic floor.
Healthy for life
A strong pelvic floor is important not just during childbearing years. As hormonal changes happen during menopause, pelvic floor issues can become more likely. It’s possible for the uterus, bowel or bladder to sag down and push against the walls of the vagina (called prolapse).
Doing just a few pelvic floor exercises every day can help strengthen the pelvic floor and prevent problems later on in life. It’s equally important to learn how to relax your pelvic floor as it is to tighten it during childbirth.
Pelvic floor exercises, done correctly and often, can help to protect against urine leakage and prolapse.