Joanna Helcke Video

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Pelvic floor exercises

Spotlight on:

What is the pelvic floor?

Why is the pelvic floor important?

How does the pelvic floor change in pregnancy?

I’ve had a caesarean delivery. Do I need to do pelvic floor exercises?

When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises?

How do I do pelvic floor exercises?

How do I know I’m actually doing pelvic floor exercises?

Post natal exercise and the pelvic floor

How often should I do pelvic floor exercises?

When can I stop doing pelvic floor exercises?

 

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What is the pelvic floor?

Your pelvic floor is a sling of muscle at the base of your pelvis which supports and contains your abdominal contents. Put in not very technical terms, it’s the bottom of your internal shopping bag and, as such, plays an important role, given that we all know what happens when a shopping bag gives way… everything falls out! The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscle, fascia and membrane through which pass the urethra (where you wee from), the vagina and the anus.

Why is the pelvic floor important?

You might not be able to see the pelvic floor but it plays an incredibly important role:

 

  • It is crucial for urinary and faecal continence.
  • It supports your pelvic organs, thus preventing prolapse
  • It allows you to suppress the sudden need to void (i.e. enables you to hold on!)
  • It helps during the birthing process
  • It increases sexual satisfaction

How does the pelvic floor change in pregnancy?


During pregnancy your pelvic floor is placed under a great deal of strain:

 

  • As your baby grows, the increased weight bears down on the pelvic floor, thus weakening the area.
     
  • The increased levels of relaxin in your body soften the pelvic area and so the pelvic floor muscles become more lax and lose their tone.
     
  • During a vaginal birth the pelvic floor has to stretch enormously, thus weakening and sometimes damaging this area.
     
  • Tearing and episiotomies cause trauma to the pelvic floor.
     
  • Following childbirth up to 50% of women have a certain level of pelvic organ prolapse leading to continence problems (DiFiore 2010).

I’ve had a caesarean delivery. Do I need to do pelvic floor exercises?


Over the years I have noticed that many women who have had a C section think that they are somehow immune to stress incontinence and don’t need to do pelvic floor exercises. I’m afraid I am going to have to dispel this particular myth! Please remember that, even if you have had a caesarean delivery, you still had the weight of your baby bearing down on the pelvic floor for 9 months. You also had raised levels of relaxin in your body, making the whole area laxer and more elastic.

When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises?


The answer is “immediately”. I realise that, as you are handed your new born and look down at him/her in your arms for the very first time, you are unlikely to suddenly start doing pelvic floor exercises… Nevertheless, the advice is that the sooner you start the better. Doing pelvic floor exercises - also known as kegel exercises - at this early stage will also promote healing if you have had any stitches or if you have had a C section.

How do I do pelvic floor exercises?


My FREE step-by-step Guide to the Pelvic Floor will help you make sure you know exactly how to do your pelvic floor exercises.

 

Download your FREE guide from the top right hand corner

How do I know I’m actually doing pelvic floor exercises?


You’ll find a clear explanation of exactly how to find out whether or not you are working your pelvic floor muscles in my FREE step-by-step Guide to the Pelvic Floor.

 

Download your FREE guide from the top right hand corner

Post natal exercise and the pelvic floor


This is a topic which is very close to my heart. Why? Because if you do the wrong sort of exercise during the postnatal period – those crucial 6 months after giving birth – you could quite easily damage your pelvic floor irrevocably. This is exactly what happened to me after I had my third child, and before I had retrained as a specialist in pregnancy and postnatal fitness. Nobody gave me appropriate advice and I went straight back into “mainstream” exercise, ruined my pelvic floor and then had to be operated on. So take my advice… do NOT do high impact exercise during the first six months after giving birth as this will place immense strain on an already weakened and stretched pelvic floor. By high impact, I mean the following:

 

  • Jogging (yes, even “light” jogging)
  • Running
  • Exercise which involves jumping around, leaping, hopping etc.
  • Trampolining
  • Skipping
     

Don't ruin your pelvic floor by doing high impact exercise

High impact exercise

 

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How often should I do pelvic floor exercises?


Ideally every day, at least three times a day. Ideally…

When can I stop doing pelvic floor exercises?


The short answer is “never”.

When I give talks, I often use the following analogy: imagine a body builder. He (or she) works very hard to build big strong muscles by working out regularly with heavy weights. What happens if s/he stops lifting weights? The muscles start to waste away and soon s/he won’t look like a body builder any more. It’s no different with the pelvic floor muscles – if you strengthen them and then suddenly stop the pelvic floor exercises, they will regress to their former weak state. Sorry ladies, it’s pelvic floor exercises for ever after…


So now’s the time to get your FREE step-by-step Guide to the Pelvic Floor so that you know exactly how to do your pelvic floor exercises.

 

Downlod your FREE guide from the top right hand corner

 

Ready to give the ultimate online postnatal fitness and wellbeing programme a go?

 

 

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Pelvic Floor
Here is my FREE guide to getting your post pregnancy pelvic floor up and running again. I give you clear, step-by-step instructions on how to work at the correct level for your own PFMs.


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