Anyone who has ever had a baby will be fully aware that they need to work to strengthen their pelvic floors. However, not everyone knows exactly what this entails, nor why it is so important.
Your pelvic floor consists of layers of muscle stretched from your coccyx to your pubic bone. They are there to support the bladder, womb and bowel. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, work to strengthen your muscles to prevent prolapse and incontinence in later life. Pregnancy and childbirth put a lot of strain on these muscles, by stretching these muscles quite dramatically. This is why it's so important to ensure you are strengthening this area regularly during and after your pregnancy.
Practising your pelvic floor exercises is great because you can do it anywhere, without anyone knowing what you are doing. To practice, squeeze your muscles to stop and then release to continue the flow of urine next time you need the toilet. That squeeze is you working your pelvic floor muscles. Practice regularly, without holding your breath, or squeezing your tummy or thighs in. The more you practice, the stronger your muscles will become.
It can be hard to get into the habit to regularly practice your pelvic floor exercises, so why not find a trigger for you to remember. Perhaps every time you wash your hands or walk up or down the stairs, you can do a set. Once your muscles become stronger, you will be able to hold the inward squeeze for up to 10 seconds before you relax. Ensure you are not holding your breath during this time though.
Pelvic floor muscles can weaken during pregnancy and childbirth, but weight gain and age can also cause the muscles to weaken. Unbeknown to many, men can also suffer from weak pelvic floors so it is important for them to exercise regularly too.
Whether you already suffer from lack of control when you need the toilet or you are hoping to prevent any problems in the future, all new mums should do these exercises regularly. Within a couple of months you should see great improvement.
Always ensure you do your exercises after emptying your bladder, try to keep out of the habit of emptying your bladder 'just in case', avoid straining and lifting heavy objects and reap the benefits which a strong pelvic floor have to offer.