Pelvic Floor Exercises During and After Pregnancy

What are Pelvic Floor Exercises?

Pelvic floor exercises are physical exercises that can help you have better control over your pelvic muscles. When you exercise these muscles, they become stronger. Pelvic floor exercises can help prevent or treat urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and other conditions.

Why is it Important to Perform Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes to prepare for childbirth. The pelvic floor muscles are no exception. During this time, they relax and stretch to accommodate the growing fetus and allow for vaginal delivery. Because these muscles stretch beyond their normal range of motion during the last trimester, it is essential to do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy to keep them strong and healthy.

Should I Continue to do Pelvic Floor Exercises After Giving Birth?

After delivery, women often experience a loss of bladder control and pelvic prolapse, which can lead to incontinence and other issues related to poor pelvic muscle tone. Pelvic floor exercises can help minimize these risks by strengthening your pelvic muscles to support your organs more efficiently.

It has been proved postpartum (exercise after delivery) can improve mood, maintain cardiorespiratory fitness (aerobic capacity), improve weight control, promote weight loss, and reduces depression and anxiety.

Despite all these known benefits of exercise after having a baby, most of the time, most women do not resume their pre-pregnancy activity after the baby’s birth.

The primary reason for the lack of physical activity after delivery is a lack of awareness and guidance on when to start the exercises and what kind of exercises are safe.

When to Start the Exercises After Pregnancy?

After delivery period can be divided into 2 phases:

1. Immediate Postpartum – Hospital discharge to six weeks of postpartum

2. Later postpartum – Six weeks to one year

Most of the international guidelines suggest that after six weeks, physical activities can be started (later postpartum). But, it depends upon various factors like a vaginal delivery, C section, associated comorbidity, and activity level of the person before delivery.

However, in case vaginal delivery exercises can be started after six weeks, in C section after eight weeks, provided no associated risks are involved.

What Should I do Before Starting Exercises?

Meet with your gynecologist six weeks after delivery to receive clearance to begin exercising. Most of the time, gynecologists will refer you to a physiotherapist for a thorough evaluation before beginning physical activity.

What is the Role of a Physiotherapist in Postpartum Recovery?

Before beginning your routine exercises, the physiotherapist will thoroughly examine your pelvic floor muscles and prescribe a specific type of exercise if they find any abnormalities.

What are the Common Musculoskeletal Problems Post Pregnancy?

Nearly all pregnant women are estimated to experience musculoskeletal discomfort, with 25% experiencing at least temporarily incapacitating symptoms including,

  • Low back and pelvic griddle pain
  • Diastasis recti – abdominal separation
  • Sacrococcygeal dislocation and coccygodynia – tail bone pain while sitting

What is the Importance of Physiotherapy After Birth?

Pelvic floor muscles are getting stressed/loaded at the time of pregnancy (beginning of 3rd trimester) to support the baby’s growth. These muscles get strained when delivered, which leads to weakness. If it’s not identified earlier, it will lead to bowel and bladder incontinence (accidental bowel and bladder leakage); therefore, it becomes essential to identify the strain/weakness of the pelvic floor muscles and to treat it to avoid postpartum complications.

What is Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation?

After a detailed assessment of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, our women’s health specialists will tailor your exercise program to rehabilitate the involved pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. This program may include specific exercises (Kegels exercises) and ultrasound-guided – (bio-feedback) pelvic floor muscles rehabilitation, education on posture, etc.

What are Kegel Exercises?

Kegel exercises are a type of physical therapy that can help strengthen the pelvic floor. Dr. Arnold Kegel developed them to help women who had given birth strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, which would help prevent them from leaking urine or experiencing constipation.

Kegel exercises work by contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles, which are the group of muscles that surround your urethra, vagina, and rectum. You will be lifting your pelvic area by contracting these muscles.

Strong pelvic muscles can help you have an easier birth and recover more comfortably. Performing pelvic floor exercises regularly throughout and after your pregnancy improves the strength and endurance of your pelvic floor muscles. Our physiotherapists at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, are extensively trained to assess your muscle strength and endurance and tailor a program that’s right for you to improve your pelvic muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance.

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