My "babies" are 18, 13, 11, and 7 years old. I went through pregnancy, delivery and postpartum rather clueless. 2 years ago I became a personal trainer, and wowzers have my eyes ever been opened! I wish I knew the things I know now, when I was pregnant! I did not do my kegels, I did not avoid certain exercises, and I started back into fitness without even realizing I had diastasic recti and pelvic floor weakening. I experienced occasional and fairly minor bladder leakage before I learned how to train and exercise my pelvic floor properly. I feel rather lucky for the most part because despite my ignorance my body healed fairly well on it's own. Many women are not so lucky, so many in fact that it has become an accepted cultural norm to experience urinary leakage postpartum.
I may not be an expert on this subject, but I do feel the need to spread the word that although urinary leakage is very common postpartum...it is not normal, and we should not ignore it! It is something that we can correct over time with the proper knowledge and support.
What is the pelvic floor
Your pelvic floor is a layer of muscle and connective tissue that lies at the bottom of your abdomen. This "sling" of muscles runs from your tailbone (in the back) to your pubis (in the front.) It supports your colon, your bladder, and your uterus. It also helps in bladder and bowel function as well as sexual function.
Did you know the pelvic floor is part of your core? When you are lifting a weight, your pelvic floor should lift up, your transverse abdominus (your inner most abdominal muscle) should tighten around your abdomen to support your spine, and you should be able to breathe easily through the movement. If any part of your core is weakened this activity may not be coordinated properly and the increase in abdominal pressure could cause the pelvic floor to be pressed downwards. This can result in urine leakage.
How do I know if I have a weak pelvic floor?
The reduced ability to lift that pelvic floor during exertion is the main reason we often experience urine leakage postpartum when we jump, lift, or even cough or sneeze. It is due to that increase in abdominal pressure without the proper coordination of your core and pelvic floor.
Other signs that you may have a weak pelvic floor may be the following:
Needing to get to the bathroom in a hurry
Accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
Having difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
Accidentally passing gas
Pain in your pelvic area
Pain during sex
How do I get more information on prevention?
If you are pregnant I recommend that you educate yourself as much as possible on the exercises that you can be doing for your pelvic floor and core to help prevent future issues and speed your recovery postpartum. There are so many resources out there! You just need to know where to look.
My first recommendation would be to ask your doctor for resources and advice.
A few of my favourite Instagram accounts that often talk about this subject: @getmomstrong
You can also check out these websites:
How do I fix it?
The above resources will give you some information regarding exercises that you should be doing to help strengthen the pelvic floor. However, it may also be necessary to consult a pelvic health physical therapist, especially if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort! The most common issue with pelvic floor is weakness, however you can also have a pelvic floor that is too tight, and be experiencing pain because of that. You may also have compounding core issues like diastasic recti that need to be addressed. In all these situations your recovery will be quicker and more effective in the hands of a professional.
In conclusion: Spread the word...and don't settle for anything less than a functional core!
The purpose in this blog is to get you thinking about pelvic health, to raise awareness, and give you a starting point on understanding what pelvic floor dysfunction may look like.
Pregnancy takes a huge toll on the body and most of us will experience some dysfunction with our core/pelvic floor postpartum. Just know you are not alone and that you have the power to heal and get your body back into proper functionality!
Don't pee your pants any longer than you need to ;-)
Please feel free to share with your prenatal and postnatal friends.
Have you experienced and of these issues? And if so what helped you the most in your recovery?