Pelvic floor muscles

What and where are your pelvic floor muscles? And what do you need to do with them during pregnancy?

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Pelvic floor muscles are important for giving you the right support when you’re pregnant, and through birth. Your pelvic floor muscles help control your bladder and bowel. They are also important for proper back support and so it’s important that you look after them with special pelvic floor exercises.

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What are the pelvic floor muscles?

Your pelvic floor has a band of muscle that’s slung across at the base of your pelvis, acting like a support for the back and pelvic area.

The pelvic floor muscles need to be flexible, so you have mobility in this are. The pelvic floor muscles also need to be strong and in good condition because you use the middle of your body to do so much moving, lifting and so on.

Why are pelvic floor muscles important?

If you have a toned pelvic floor, you’ll find:

  • Your back is less likely to suffer aches and pains.
  • You have more strength and balance to lift things properly.
  • You won’t feel so achy standing on your feet for long periods.
  • Your bladder and bowel control are better.
  • You’re less like to suffer stress incontinence now or in the future.

What is stress incontinence?

Stress incontinence is when you pass a little urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or perhaps even jump or stride.

Stress incontinence can occur during pregnancy, and is quite common after pregnancy, when the weight of carrying around your unborn baby and the process of labour have stretched your pelvic floor muscles.

What can be done to tone pelvic floor muscles?

You can keep your pelvic floor toned by doing small, muscle-tensing motions several times a day, called pelvic floor exercises.

Pelvic floor exercises involve tightening your muscles, as if you were stopping yourself from peeing mid-flow. However, you should never actually stop your urine flow whilst really peeing!

Find out how to do your step-by-step pelvic floor exercises

“I’m converted to Pilates”

“While pregnant, I didn’t think pelvic floor exercises applied to me, as I was having an elective caesarean. But after birth I had pelvic and back problems and began Pilates classes. My advice to all pregnant women is to find a good prenatal Pilates class. Even though you may not feel it at first, it works your body at a deeper level. The results are immediate.”

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Sabina, 40, mum to Finn, 4, and Lorenzo, 18 months

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