Monday, 7 July 2014

Importance of pelvic floor exercises and how to do them

To my embarrassment I didn't do much of pelvic floor exercises during my pregnancy due to the fact that others were telling me it's normal to have leaks and my midwife never stressed a point how important it is to do them.
I feel that after birth I need to do them properly that I will fail in my own eyes if at least I won't give it a go. Plus after labour physiotherapist visited me in the ward and explained that to return to my normal shape and get rid of soreness I would need to do them. So here is my written promise that I will try and do my best.

To help me and others (apparently not only women need to do this exercises but men as well) to understand how important these exercises are here is a little bit of information from official resources.

According to NHS website:

What are pelvic floor exercises?

The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They are shaped like a sling and hold your bladder and urethra (the tube urine comes out of) in place.
The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel and give you control when you urinate. They relax at the same time as the bladder contracts (tightens) to let urine out.

Why pelvic floor exercises are important?
Weakened pelvic muscles can cause problems, such as urinary incontinence (being unable to control when you pass urine) and reduced sensitivity (feeling) during sex.
Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where small amounts of urine leak out during an activity. Doing pelvic floor exercises can help improve stress incontinence by keeping your pelvic muscles strong. Both men and women can do pelvic floor exercises.

How to do pelvic floor exercises

You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go
to the toilet. However, it is not recommended that you regularly stop your flow of urine mid stream because it can be harmful to the bladder.
To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10 to 15 times in a row. Do not hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock or thigh muscles at the same time.

When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. Every week, you can add more squeezes, but be careful not to overdo it and always have a rest in-between sets of squeezes.

NCT website says:

Your pelvic floor muscles are made up of two kinds of muscle fibre: slow twitch for stamina and fast twitch for quick contractions. For best effect, you need to exercise both kinds.

Slow exercise option 1

  1. Sit or lie comfortably with your knees slightly apart. Pull up the muscles surrounding your back passage, then pull up towards the front. Hold and count to four, remembering to breathe normally.
  2. Double check you aren't pulling in buttock muscles by placing your hand on your bottom as you do the exercises. It's OK if you're tensing your lower abdominal muscles slightly.
  3. When you find this exercise easy, try holding for a longer count, up to a maximum of ten.
  4. With these exercises, quality is better than quantity: it's much better to do a few good ones at a time.

Slow exercise option 2

  1. Imagine your pelvic floor is like a lift. Tighten the muscles around the anus and vagina, as if closing doors in a lift. Now tighten a little more as if you're going up to the first floor, then the second, then gently come back down to the ground again, making sure you keep breathing normally throughout.
  2. Try coughing or blowing into your fist. You will feel the muscles of your pelvic floor being pushed down. This will also happen when your baby's head starts to move down the birth canal during the second stage of labour. Knowing how to relax these muscles will help you give birth to your baby.

Fast exercise

Try tightening and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles as quickly as you can, 5-6 times in a row. These are the muscles which contract instantly when you cough or sneeze to resist the rise in abdominal pressure. Before you cough, sneeze, lift or laugh, try to take a moment to pull these muscles up.

According to Tena website:

  • Carry on doing your pelvic floor exercises for several months. You should notice a difference within 2 to 4 months of regular exercise, but physiotherapists recommend you continue for around 6 months.
  • Once you’ve got your bladder weakness under control you can then reduce the number of times you need to do these exercises. However, we recommend you carry on using these muscles every day, when you need them, to keep them working effectively.
Did you have weak pelvic muscles during pregnancy or after?

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