PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES
Your Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM), are made up of layers of muscles and other tissues and stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. A womanâ€™s PFM support her bladder, womb and bowel. The urine tube (front passage), the vagina andÂ back passage all pass through the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel. They also help sexual function. It is vital to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
How do they become weak?
During pregnancy, your PFM can become weak from the extra strain that is placed upon them. Other ways they can become weak are:
â€¢ By not keeping them active
â€¢ An over long period of time coughing (generally from smokers cough, asthma or bronchitis)
â€¢ Being overweight
â€¢ Growing old
If you find that wet yourself when you cough, run, sneeze etc, this is called stress incontinence, and this can be helped by doing PFM exercises. When you are pregnant, if you have been exercising your PFM before and during your pregnancy, they generally mend more easy as they are fit and healthy. Post delivery of your baby, you should begin your PFM exercises as soon as you can. By embracing your PFM (hold up and squeeze as if trying to stop peeing mid stream) as you cough, sneeze or lift your baby, you are exercising them.
How to identify your Pelvic Floor Muscles:
1. Sit or lie down with your thighs, buttock and tummy muscles all relaxed
2. Squeeze the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Now relax this muscle. Squeeze and let go a couple of times until you are sure you have found the right muscles. Try not to squeeze your buttocks.
3. When sitting on the toilet to empty your bladder, try to stop the stream of urine, then start it again. Do this to learn which muscles are the right ones to use â€“ but only once a week.
How do I do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
1. Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your back passage and your vagina at the same time. Lift them UP inside. You should have a sense of â€œliftâ€ each time you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to hold them strong and tight as you count to 8. Now, let them go and relax. You should have a distinct feeling of â€œletting goâ€.
2. Repeat â€œsqueeze and liftâ€ and let go. It is best to rest for about 8 seconds in between each lift up of the muscles. If you canâ€™t hold for 8, just hold for as long as you can.
3. Repeat this â€œsqueeze and liftâ€ as many times as you can, up to a limit of 8 to 12 squeezes.
4. Try to do three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes each, with a rest in between.
5. Do this whole training plan (three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes) each day while lying down, sitting or standing.
6. While doing your Mummy Bootcamp stationary exercises, you can practise the â€˜squeeze and liftâ€™ on individual reps.
Top Tips for Working your Pelvic Floor Muscles
1. Always embrace your PFM when coughing or squeezing
2. Eat healthy fruit and veg and keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day
3. Donâ€™t strain when using your bowels
4. Keep your weight at a healthy range for your age and height.