Pelvic floor health is a hot topic in the health and wellness community, but what does it mean? First off, the pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles that serve as a hammock in the pelvis. These muscles are key in supporting the pelvic organs, which helps out with sexual, bladder and bowel function. focus on the five elements below throughout your pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of pelvic floor dysfunction after baby:
poor posture can affect your pelvic floor, leading to incontinence, prolapse and other not so great outcomes. pregnant people's posture tends to shift throughout their pregnancy, shifting their weight to the back of their heels and popping out their bump.
shift your weight and fix your posture. perfect posture involves standing with your ribs stacked over your pelvis, and your pelvis stacked over your feet. don't clench your bum!
prenatal nutrition not only benefits you, but your baby as well. think of prenatal nutrition as another way to bond with your baby throughout pregnancy! while everyone gains weight at various rates during their pregnancy, carrying more weight than you feel comfortable with can put unnecessary pressure on the bladder and bowel, causing future pelvic floor problems.
fuelling your body and your baby with the right vitamins and nutrients is a great way to kick start your baby-making bod into gear. cutting out booze, caffeine and processed sugar is a great starting point. have fun and experiment with nutrient dense foods and recipes. get your partner involved - that way they'll know how to cook some healthy recipes after delivery when the last thing you want to do is cook!
get moving! 30 minutes of movement five times a week oxygenates your muscles - pelvic floor included.
while kegels get all the attention, sometime kegel exercises can do more harm than good if the muscles are already too tight. one great exercise to lengthen those muscles, regardless of tightness or looseness, are squats. keep your shins vertical and pelvis untucked to engage your glutes.
4. PERINEAL MASSAGE
prep for pushing by stretching and strengthening the perineum (the soft skin between the anus and the vagina). while studies aren't totally conclusive, thousands of mamas-to-be recommend perineal massage to avoid spontaneous tearing or episiotomies (which cut through skin and muscles).
after a hot bath to loosen the area, grab some massage oil like coconut oil or almond oil, a clean towel to lie on and a mirror to check out the action. insert one or two thumbs about an inch into your vagina (to your knuckle), and put pressure straight down on the perineum. allow it to stretch for a minute or two. slight burning or stretching is OK, but if you experience pain, use more gentle pressure, or stop the massage. after a minute, begin running your thumbs along the rim, like its the the inside of a bowl, from one side to the other. check out the gif below to see the motions in action:
gif via mama natural
5. PRACTICE PUSHING
getting practice beforehand trains your body to get int this whole holding your breath while pushing out a baby is total nonsense; losing oxygen during one of the biggest workouts of your life makes no sense!
excuse the tmi, but next time you're sitting down for a poop is the perfect time to practice pushing. practice breathing through bearing down and exhale through the urge to push. there are a variety of breathing techniques that can help during early labour and pushing; ask about the different types of labour breathing during your childbirth education class or speak to your doula during your prenatal visit!