Ever had a baby

Pelvic floor muscles take time to get back to their usual state after the birth. When you’re pregnant the hormone ‘relaxin’ is released throughout your body. This softens the tissues – allowing it to expand as your baby grows and stretch during the delivery. The effects of relaxin can last up to six months in some women after the birth.

Some women are more at risk of pelvic floor problems during pregnancy and childbirth than others. These include women who have had:

Woman on exercise bike

  • multiple births
  • instrumental births (using forceps or ventouse)
  • a prolonged second stage of labour (over 1 hour)
  • severe perineal tearing
  • large babies (over 4Kg)

If you have recently had a baby, it is important to reduce the strain on your pelvic floor muscles (especially in the first few months) to help them to recover.  Some easy ways to do this include:

  • easing back into exercise, and making sure your exercise program is pelvic floor friendly
  • not lifting unless absolutely necessary
  • bracing before you lift, sneeze or cough

It is also important to look out for common signs of a pelvic floor problem, which may include:

  • accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
  • finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
  • accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
  • accidentally passing wind
  • a prolapse (this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping)

Pelvic floor muscle exercises are important during pregnancy and childbirth. They are also important after you have a baby and you should always take special care of these muscles.

For further information visit a continence professional or contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

You may also want to see:

An initiative of continence.org.au

The Continence Foundation of Australia is the national peak body promoting bladder
and bowel health.

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