Pregnant or postnatal
Pregnancy and childbirth can have a lasting effect on your pelvic floor muscle fitness. It is therefore important to look after these muscles during this important time of your life.
When you’re pregnant the hormone ‘relaxin’ is released throughout your body. This softens the tissues in your body, allowing it to expand as your baby grows. It also allows your pelvic floor to stretch during birth.
The softening effect of relaxin and the increasing weight of your baby places pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. This can make it harder for the muscles to hold your pelvic floor organs in their correct position. The pelvic floor muscles and ligaments are also stretched at birth, which can sometimes lengthen the tissues permanently.
Some women are more at risk of pelvic floor problems during pregnancy and childbirth than others. These include women who have had:
- multiple births
- instrumental births (using forceps or ventouse)
- long second stage of labour (over 1 hour)
- severe perineal tearing
- large babies (over 4Kg)
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are an effective way to maintain your pelvic floor fitness during and after pregnancy.
Good pelvic floor muscle tone assists women to maintain bladder and bowel control throughout pregnancy. They also help reduce the risk of developing a prolapse during or after pregnancy and assist with recovery after birth.
You may also want to see:
- The Pregnancy Guide
- Pregnancy and exercise
- Returning to sport after the birth
- One in three women who ever had a baby wet themselves
- Expecting a baby?
- Pelvic floor muscle training for women
- Article: Body bounce-back pressure on new mums unrealistic
- Article: Re-thinking abdominal training in pregnant and postnatal women