Okay ladies, today we are going to talk about something that is so damn important but is often missed in conversation. Your pelvic floor! What the heck is your pelvic floor? I’m sure at some point you have heard that it is normal for some new moms to have urinary incontinence issues after giving birth. Luckily there are exercises you can do to help improve this issue. This post might have a little bit of TMI for some of you but I’m hoping it sheds light on an important topic.
On May 3, 2009 my first son was born. I had a birth plan and a midwife with the intend to have an all natural birth. But as all moms soon learn you can never plan a birth. After 29 hours of labour with 3 hours of pushing, Chase was born vaginally with the help of forceps. I didn’t know much about forceps and I still don’t but what I can tell you is I believe they contributed to the difficulties I would have with my pelvic floor. Here’s what I have learned from my experience.
I had stitches, I couldn’t sit for weeks, and everything hurt down there. It was a very traumatic experience. I was naive and thought I could just bounce back from labour. After my 6 week checkup with my midwife, I was given the go ahead to work out again and without a second thought I did, but not without a lot of problems. Here is where it gets embarrassing…. I started running but couldn’t do it without wearing a pad because I would have leakage. It became a regular occurrence for me and shamefully embarrassing. Then about 4 months after giving birth I started experiencing back pain that would lay me flat out for weeks. I couldn’t even pick up my son. I tried everything to get better. I went for massages, to the chiropractor and finally to physiotherapy. It all seemed to help for a little bit but the pain always came back.
When Chase was 6 months old I got pregnant again and gave birth September 5, 2009. It was a much easier labour and delivery (thank goodness) but I still had the ongoing issue of back pain and leakage. Finally a friend of mine suggested that I go to a physiotherapist that specializes in women’s health (I was referred to Donna Sarna Physiotherapy here in Winnipeg for any locals looking for help). I met with a physiotherapist named Heather and she started discussing my pelvic floor. What the heck is a pelvic floor I thought?? I hadn’t even heard of it before that appointment. As it turns out, it is one of the most important muscles in your body. It holds in all your organs in, so yeah, I would say it’s important.
Heather did a pelvic exam and mention that I have a tight pelvic floor which was most likely the cause for all the my back. We started treatment right away and I noticed a difference almost instantly. She showed me a few different exercises to work on strengthening my pelvic floor. Here’s the thing, to be effective pelvic floor exercises must be done properly. You might actually be doing pelvic floor exercises (commonly known as kegels) all wrong. Yes you read that right, you can do kegels wrong. Here’s some links to proper exercises you can try here and here.
I’m not a medical professional but I will explain to you how I was told to do a kegal properly. Try to hold everything else still and only working with your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine grabbing a grape between two flaps of your vagina. Now hold the grape there and slowly imagine bringing the grape forward towards your belly button. You want it to be a slow, even movement. Focus on tightening and releasing in a steady even pace, like going over a hill. The release is just as important
During December 2012 I became pregnant a third time. Heather treated me through my pregnancy and helped me strengthening my pelvic floor with proper kegel exercises. I was able to run during my entire pregnancy without any leakage or back pain. This also led to my easiest labour and delivery with only four hours of labour and five minutes of pushing.
Thanks to doing my proper pelvic floor exercises and seeking professional help I have been mostly pain free for two years and have had no more leakage. I feel like your pelvic floor strength should be talked about at your 6 week appointment with your doctor before you’re cleared for physical activity but the sad truth is that it isn’t. I want to spread awareness about this issue so more women and new moms talk about it and can seek help. Please refer to a professional for more help if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort.