Postnatal Fitness- The Pelvic Floor Muscle

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Who hasn’t peed themselves during or after pregnancy?!  We might not like to talk about it, but it happens.  Being pregnant can place a lot of stress on your pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to weakness before your baby is born. Your pelvic floor can become weak and stretched from as early as 12 weeks into your pregnancy, and this can result in incontinence As a Fitness Leader I made the  rehabilitation of my pelvic floor muscles a priority….. read on for more information.

It’s more common than you think

After a little research, I learned that doctors say roughly fifty percent of women will experience some kind of incontinence related to their pregnancy or after giving birth. For a lot of women  symptoms subside within the first year after delivery—but a full one-third to one-half of  women experience postpartum incontinence a full five years after the main event. And a whopping 20 percent of women who didn’t have urinary problems during their pregnancy have them after vaginal birth.

Here’s the 411 on Pelvic Floor:pelvic floor

  • Your pelvic floor is one of the muscles that forms your “deep” or “inner” core.
  • It supports your bladder, womb (uterus) and bowel (colon).
  • It is connected to your diaphragm, multifidus, and transverse abdominis and can be influenced and affected positively and negatively by tight hips, hamstrings, groin and glutes.

What causes postpartum incontinence?

It depends on what kind of incontinence you’ve have, there are two kinds

  1. Stress incontinence is when laughing, coughing, jumping, or sneezing (like me!) . It’s caused from all that pressure on your bladder, plus pregnancy hormones that throw your urinary muscles out of whack.
  2. Urge incontinence is when you feel like you really need to pee way more often than normal, and sometimes you don’t even make it to the bathroom. That’s caused by an overactive bladder. You can suffer from one or the other—many women actually suffer from both.

my journey

Two weeks after delivery I sought out advice from a local Pelvic Rehab Physical Therapist Ji-Seon Kim, of Soul Physiotherapy and Pelvic Floor Health.

one month postpartum

I had my fist appointment, which included an assessment of my pelvic floor muscles as well as my Pubic Symphsis.   I was suffering from a mild case of  stress incontinence  but overall my pelvic floor was in good health for someone that had a vaginal birth one month prior.  I attribute this to my diligence kegelswith kegel exercises throughout my pregnancy.  With regards to my Public Symphsis,  it wasn’t a mobility issue but rather an over compensation issue of the muscles surrounding the joint.  She suspected that  I had suffered some microscopic tearing of my adductor muscles.  As a result  the adductors on my right leg where incredibly tight, while my left hip flexsors and my lower abdominal were tight.  This was creating a shearing force on my pubic symphsis.  She spent quite a bit of time massaging the knots out of these muscles.  I was given stretches and exercises to help along with kegel exercises for my pelvic floor.

Pelvic Floor Ramps 1-2 x day
1. On/ Off                                                         3 sets of 10 reps
2. 5 seconds on 10 seconds off               3 sets of 10 reps
Physiotherapy Exercises 1-2 x day
1. Clam shells                                                3 sets of 10 reps
2. T-band bent knee fall out                    3 sets of 10 reps

two months postpartum

I has a follow-up appointment. I exhibited notable  improvement in both my pelvic floor and the mobility and my comfort of my pubic symphsis.  At this appointment I was given additional exercises and stretches and we increased the duration of my kegel ramps.

Pelvic Floor Ramps 1-2 x day
1. On/ Off                                                   3 sets of 15 reps
2. 10 seconds on 10 seconds off       3 sets of 10 reps

3. Belly breathing

Physiotherapy Exercises
1. Squat with a ball in knees             3 sets of 10 reps

2.Clam shells- with band                    3 sets of 10 reps

3. T-band bent knee fall out              3 sets of 10 reps

4. Bent knee lift w/toe tap                  3 sets of 10 reps

three months postpartum

Three  weeks after the second appointment I was able to incorporate spinning and jump squats into my exercise routine.  At the third appointment an EMG (Electromyography) was hooked up to monitor the strength and endurance of my pelvic floor contractions.  During this appointment I completed my kegel ramps providing me with a very cool visual of my muscles at work.  Based on my progress it was agreed to continue with the above routine slowly incorporating run-walking and by 6 months postpartum I should be able to start incorporating  running with the jogging stroller.

Signs you may have pelvic floor weakness or dysfunction:

  1. Deep pain in your groin/pelvic region.
  2. Urinary or bladder incontinence. (Do you pee a little every time you sneeze?)
  3. Pain during sex.

If you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction I recommend seeking out the help of your Doctor.  To ease your symptoms, he or she will likely recommend that you do regular Kegel exercises and make them a lifelong habit.  If the incontinence continues for more than a month despite doing regular Kegel exercises,  I encourage you to seek out a Pelvic Rehab Physical Therapist. Many women with urinary incontinence find relief from pelvic floor therapy. (In rare cases, surgery is necessary to correct the problem.)

As always, If you have a similar experience, or something to add I would love to hear from you.

Happy kegeling 😉

 

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2 thoughts on “Postnatal Fitness- The Pelvic Floor Muscle

  1. Leighann says:

    Hi! Great read! You just commented over on my site and directed me here:) I did a lot of the same exercises! I was actually a national level Olympic weightlifter and instructor for a few years before becoming pregnant, and have started getting back to it. Rehab is so important and luckily due to exercises like these, I’m able to start squatting heavy again! Hope others listen to your post, because this stuff really helps!

    • VenusFitness-Shannon says:

      Wow that’s amazing. Congratulations on your pre-pregnancy accomplishments and being back at it already. I’m not ready for heavy lifting but happy to be back to running.

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