By Sam Wood
Laugh, cough and sneeze again, without needing to run to the bathroom! I know all of you mamas out there know what I’m talking about.
One of the most common questions we get at 28 by Sam Wood is,”How do I protect my pelvic floor post-pregnancy?” But did you know that you can start supporting your pelvic floor before and during pregnancy too?
Thinking about trying for a baby? Now is the time to start looking after your pelvic floor – before all of the crazy hormonal changes set in and you feel like you’re carrying a bowling ball between your legs.
You want to make sure you’re activating your muscles properly, so if you don’t know how or if you have pre-existing bladder or bowel issues, check in with a women’s health physio. The most common concerns often relate to urinary incontinence (you know… leaking when coughing, sneezing or laughing) and bladder urgency.
It might not seem that important to you at this early stage, but you should incorporate pelvic floor muscle exercises into your daily routine now and you’ll feel like a pro once you fall pregnant.
Step away from the high impact exercises and put down the heavy weights – anything that puts excessive downward pressure on your pelvic floor can cause unnecessary stretching of the muscles… OUCH! Take it easy and use your pregnancy to try some new low-impact exercises.
If you’ve been doing your pelvic floor exercises daily, your muscles will be strong, helping handle the extra load from your growing bub and amniotic fluid. And, even better, it will help with your labour! Our 28 by Sam Wood pregnancy expert, Chloe, explains it as, “Think of squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, you want good strong muscles to help guide your baby out!” Recovery is also easier and quicker post-delivery too… something all mamas want!
Did you know that you can safely start exercising your pelvic floor muscles 24 hours after you’ve had your bub? But only if it is pain free. Don’t freak out if it’s hard to feel much of a squeeze in the first couple of days, your muscle memory will kick in after all of the hard work you’ve put in pre- and during pregnancy. Start with shorter holds and as your pelvic floor muscles grow stronger, gradually increase your holding time.
For all of you gym bunnies out there, stick to low-impact exercise until at least 12 weeks post-delivery, to give your pelvic floor muscles time to strengthen. If you have any doubts or want to check your progress, check in with your pelvic floor physio or obstetrician, and never return to exercise or high-impact exercise until they give you the thumbs up.