This post is written by contributor Chelsea Becker
Since becoming a mom in April, one of the lingering questions I’ve had about my postpartum body is how I should best take care of my pelvic floor. But wait, what even is a pelvic floor? And why might it need extra attention after giving birth? Honestly, I didn’t even know and I just gave birth. So I did some research and this is what I came up with.
First, I’m definitely not a doctor, I’m just a chick who’s trying to learn more about her body, so read this information knowing what I’m writing is based solely off of my own experience and what I’ve read.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that provides support to the uterus, bladder and bowels. For example, you know when you have to go to the bathroom really bad and you’re trying to hold it? You’re using the muscles in your pelvic floor to do it. So they’re pretty freaking important. Well, during pregnancy and birth, and also as women age (kids or not), the muscles stretch. As they stretch, they’ll weaken, which is when you might notice your ability to hold that pee in like you once did diminishes a bit – especially while exercising or if you sneeze or cough.
How can I take better care of it?
To help prevent incontinence and improve a weakened pelvic floor, you want to strengthen it just like any other muscle in your body. There are specialized exercises you can do to build these muscles. Maybe you’ve heard of kegel exercises? All you have to do is flex your pelvic floor muscles, which is what you do when you’re holding in pee, hold for eight seconds and release. If your pelvic floor muscles are really weak, you may not be able to make it to eight, so just do it as long as you can. Do this 10 times, give yourself a rest, then go through it all two more times. So thirty flexes in total.
If you’re expecting, definitely start doing pelvic floor exercises now. I’d recommend asking your doc about it at your next appointment. Don’t wait until after baby to then realize you’re having a problem. Building a strong pelvic floor now will help prevent incontinence later. Even if you’re not planning on having children, I read you should still practice kegel exercises regularly because the muscles will naturally weaken with age, especially after menopause.
If you have questions about exercising your pelvic floor, definitely reach out to your doctor. I just hoped this sparked a little conversation on a topic that I don’t think is talked about enough!