Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor muscles will be stretched and weakened with the extra weight of your baby through your pregnancy. After caesarean delivery it is still important to do pelvic floor exercises. After vaginal delivery it can be difficult initially to feel the right muscles, it is okay to start right away even if you have stitches. You can start these exercises once the catheter has been removed if you have one.
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The pelvic floor muscles are a made up of several layers of muscles which stretch from the front of your pelvis to the tail bone. They support your internal organs, so are working all the time. The pelvic floor muscles help control your bladder and bowel function and prevent leakage of urine, faeces, and wind. Strong pelvic floor muscles also enhance sexual function.
The diaphragm (your breathing muscle) and the pelvic floor work together, as you breathe in your pelvic floor should relax slightly and as you breathe out the pelvic floor naturally lifts, it is important to do the exercises with your breath. Start the exercises in lying and progress to sitting and standing as you improve.
To build endurance and strength
- Start gently breathing in and out of your tummy.
- As you breathe out gently tighten and draw around your back passage as if you are stopping wind, then draw up your muscles at the front as if you are trying to stop passing urine
- Try to hold the lift as you breathe out. You may only manage a couple of seconds, with practice you can build to 10 seconds.
- It is important to feel the let go of the muscles as you relax otherwise you may over tighten the muscles or they may have relaxed without your awareness.
- Repeat 10 times. You may need a rest between each hold
To make muscles work quickly when you need them (cough, sneeze, laugh)
- As you breathe out tighten and draw in the pelvic floor muscles as above as strongly and quickly as you can and then let go.
- Aim for 10 in a row; a short break between each one can help initially. Sometimes other muscles will try to switch on while doing the exercises but it is important that you:
- Do not squeeze your big muscles of your bottom
- Do not tighten your abdominal muscles
- Do not hold your breath No one should be able to tell that you are doing the exercises.
Aim to do the exercises four to six times a day. It takes three to six months to strengthen the pelvic floor, so don’t be disheartened if the improvement is slow. Remember the pelvic floor muscles are like any other muscle in the body; they get weak if not exercised regularly; try to set up a routine that you can continue forever. It is easy to forget to do exercises for muscles that you can’t see. To prevent leakage and pressure on the pelvic floor it is good to tighten the muscles before activities that put pressure on your pelvic floor for example coughing, sneezing or picking up your baby.
More information is available from: https://www.nbt.nhs.uk/maternity-services/after-birth/pelvic-floor-stomach-exercises