Do you know how to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong? Start strengthening those muscles and lessen any symptoms with easy exercises you can do from anywhere, anytime. Say goodbye to “mommy bladder.”
What is the Pelvic Floor?
According to ACOG, “The pelvic organs include the vagina, uterus, bladder, urethra, and rectum. These organs are held in place by muscles of the pelvic floor. Layers of connective tissue also give support.” Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken these muscles, along with other conditions like obesity, chronic constipation, and conditions that cause chronic coughing.
What Might Happen if My Pelvic Floor Muscles Are Weak?
Have you ever heard jokes about “mommy bladder?” You might leak a few drops (or a bit more) after sneezing or laughing—particularly after childbirth. Although urinary incontinence is common, it’s not normal for the body to experience leakage. Other symptoms of pelvic floor weakness range from mild to severe and may include lower back pressure and pain, difficulty making it to the bathroom on time or difficulty emptying your bladder completely, and feeling a sense of heaviness or fullness in the pelvic area. If the condition is more severe, prolapse may occur—this is when the pelvic organs drop down because the pelvic floor muscles are no longer strong enough to hold them in place.
How Can I Manage or Prevent These Symptoms?
A healthy lifestyle will go far into helping you manage these symptoms. Keeping to a healthy weight and limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake make relieve some symptoms, and treating any chronic constipation or chronic cough conditions will also help to relieve some of the pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. Having strong core muscles will also help to relieve some pressure on your pelvis.
Are There Exercises I Can Do to Help or Prevent Weak Pelvic Muscles?
You’ve probably heard of Kegel exercises, but do you actually do them? They’re a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You can usually even do them if you’re pregnant! Be certain to ask your healthcare provider to give you the okay to perform Kegel exercises and explain how to do them properly. They’re so easy, you can do them from anywhere, anytime.
An easy way to visualize Kegel exercises is to think of your vagina like an elevator. Normally it’s on the main floor—to do a Kegel, you’re going to raise it to the top floor and hold it there for 3 seconds. Relax for 3 seconds. Do these lifts 10x, three times a day. As your muscles grow stronger, you can work up to a 10-second hold at a time. If you have trouble remembering to do Kegel exercises, you can download an app or set calendar reminders. Remember to breathe normally during these exercises, and don’t tense your stomach or butt muscles while doing them—you want your pelvic floor muscles doing all the work!
Will Exercises Prevent or Fix All My Problems?
If you’re still experiencing uncomfortable or problematic symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about further treatments like medication, pessary or minimally-invasive surgery.