As you carry your baby for 9 months and during delivery (yes, including a C-section as well), your pelvic floor muscles handle a lot of pressure and stretching.
Many women may not realize what the pelvic floor is and how important it is for these muscles to function properly postpartum (until they cough or sneeze, and find they have some leakage!).
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvis that act like a sling or hammock. These muscles run from your pubic bone (in the front) to your tailbone (in the back) and from side to side.
The pelvic floor has several functions including:
- provide the squeeze (helps with continence)
- lifts and supports the organs in the pelvic cavity (prolapse)
- contributes to both postural and respiratory functions
- contributes to control and stability of the lumbar spine and pelvis
- helps balance intra-abdominal pressure
Basically, the pelvic floor is pretty important and works with everything!
Your diaphragm, pelvic floor and core work together to provide stability and support to your spine and pelvis. They create and control intra-abdominal pressure. We need some pressure for the spine. But if we have too much pressure, that is not good and we are looking at hernias.
So, this all goes back to breathing.
The first thing to help your pelvic floor is to work on your breathing! DEEP breathing is CRUCIAL! If you have a hard time feeling your pelvic floor relax or tighten, try doing deep breathing in the side-lying position.
inhale→ diaphragm goes down→ pelvic floor relaxes down
exhale→ diaphragm comes up→ pelvic floor comes up and tightens
The pelvic floor contracts with our abdominals. It is important to learn how to properly perform a kegel, although more Kegels are not always the answer for everyone to strengthen the pelvic floor. We will go over this in more detail later, but overall it is important to be able to squeeze and lift, then fully relax.
It is important to add, not to put too much pressure on your pelvic floor. This will make pelvic floor dysfunction worse, which is not something you want, especially with a new baby. The pelvic floor contracts naturally with walking, breathing and moving around. The pelvic floor contracts a lot with activities such as squatting and heavy lifting (car seat). Keep in mind hormone levels will also play a factor (ligament laxity and injury!).
Hope this helps and please reach out with any questions you may have! And if you'd like more support and helpful tips for your postpartum health and fitness goals, come join us over in the Healthy Mama Huddle group on Facebook!
Committed to your success,