The importance of pelvic floor strengthening for all women
Working primarily with women pelvic floor education and exercises make an appearance in every class! Young or old, had babies or had no babies, it’s important that we exercise our pelvic floor no matter what stage of life we are at.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that run from the pubic bone to the tailbone. Its purpose is to support your spine, bladder, uterus and bowel. There are muscular sphincters that encircle the openings of the bladder, uterus and bowel which enable us to give birth, menstruate, and release bodily waste. Things like pregnancy, childbirth, prolonged conditions such as constipation or excessive coughing, growing older, and excessive pressure on the muscles with weight gain or persistent heavy lifting can start to weaken the pelvic floor. This can result in incontinence and in some cases prolapse, a condition where the above mentioned organs start to bulge or sag down into the vagina.
Some women that come into the studio say that they know they should be exercising their pelvic floor, but are unfamiliar with how it should feel when their pelvic floor is engaged. One way to identify the group of muscles is to try to imagine stopping yourself from releasing your bladder midstream. When you are undertaking this refrain from using the stomach, leg or buttock muscles, although you will feel some sensations around your back passage.
As an added measure, while you are doing this place your hands on the inside of your hips, with fingertips pointing towards the pubic bone. When you engage the muscles you will feel the subtle movement under your fingertips. I find laying on my back makes the muscles easier to feel.
Once you know the sensation you can begin to work on exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. If you can’t feel a tightening of those muscles I would recommend a visit to a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic health. If you would like a referral please contact me.
There are many exercises that we practice in class, but one that we did in pregnancy yoga class last week was what I call the elevator lift. Get into a comfy position, and imagine that your midsection holds an elevator that can go up three stories. As you inhale draw up the pelvic floor to the first level. Hold as you exhale, and on your next inhalation draw up to the second level. Again hold as you exhale. On your next inhalation draw the pelvic floor up to its capacity, hold for one full breath, or more if you prefer, and completely and slowly release on an exhalation.
Aside from the obvious benefits of increased control of your bowel and bladder and not having your internal organs prolapsing, do you know one of the best things about doing your pelvic floor exercises? Not one knows you are doing them! Do them on the train, in a meeting, or the gardening. Whenever you remember to do them…do them!
I am a qualified childbirth educator teaching the Hypnobirthing Australia Positive Birth Program™, as well as an experienced pregnancy and post-natal yoga instructor. I am also a mum of three (the last two were beautiful hypnobirths).
I'm passionate about supporting women during pregnancy, birth and beyond in motherhood, and passing on the tools so that parents can create their best birth and beautiful memories.