At Memorial Hermann, we understand the importance of a woman’s well-being, particularly during and after pregnancy. The pelvic floor is vital in maintaining overall health, as all movement relies on the pelvic floor. We are here to provide you with valuable information and tips to support your pelvic floor journey combined with practical strategies to ensure a healthy and strong pelvic floor for years to come. Whether you are pregnant, planning to conceive or recently given birth, our primary goal is to empower you with knowledge and resources to optimize your pelvic floor health.
From understanding the changes that can occur in your pelvic floor during pregnancy to learning effective techniques for postpartum recovery, our affiliated OB/GYN team believes in a comprehensive and personalized approach to women’s health care, and our goal is to help guide you every step of the way.
Top 10 things to know about your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy
- Not all pushing is good pushing: Excessive (pink pushing) pushing during labor can lead to injuries such as coccyx injuries or pelvic floor muscle strain. It is important to work with your health care provider to find the right balance and technique for pushing, allowing your body to naturally guide the process. If you are not sure how to properly push or relax your pelvic floor, an appointment or two with a pelvic floor therapist will allow your body the proper techniques to minimize injuries, ensuring a smooth delivery.
- Know your stage of prolapse prior to the second trimester: Prolapse refers to the descent or displacement of pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus or rectum. Knowing the stage of prolapse before the second trimester allows you and your health care provider to develop a personalized plan to manage and support your pelvic floor during pregnancy and beyond.
- Ergonomics impacts your pelvic floor: Maintaining proper posture and body mechanics throughout your pregnancy can minimize unnecessary strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Ergonomic practices, such as using supportive chairs, avoiding heavy lifting and practicing good body alignment, can greatly benefit your pelvic floor health. Consider discontinuing or minimizing the wearing of heels during the second and third trimester as the center of gravity shifts forward and increases muscular straining while impacting the pelvic floor musculature.
- How to prevent diastasis recti: Diastasis recti (DRA) refers to the separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Engaging in appropriate exercises, such as core strengthening and targeted abdominal exercises, can help prevent and manage DRA. Managing constipation and lower back tightness can also prevent or improve your DRA.
- The power of massaging: Massaging the perineum starting at week 34 of pregnancy can improve the flexibility of tissues and promote healthy blood flow, reducing the risk of tearing during childbirth. Consult your physician or ask for a pelvic floor referral for proper techniques and guidance.
- Pushing with an epidural: While an epidural can provide pain relief during labor, it’s important to be mindful of your body’s signals. The numbness caused by the epidural may make it challenging to feel the urge to push naturally. It is important to collaborate with your OB/GYN health care team to find the best approach that aligns with your birth plan. Consider scheduling a few visits with a pelvic health physical therapist who utilizes biofeedback or real-time ultrasound to allow you brain and pelvic floor to connect as you learn triggers to ensure your body is able to execute the requested function, regardless of medications.
- Ways to avoid the muffin top: Maintaining a healthy weight and incorporating exercises that target the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles can help prevent the development of a “muffin top” post-pregnancy. If a cesarean section was performed, scar tissue requires a year of care, so it’s important to be mindful and talk with your health care provider about what you can do to reduce scarring.
- Why stretching is so important: Regular stretching, especially exercises that focus on the pelvic floor and surrounding muscles, can help improve flexibility and reduce tension.
- Hips and hormones: During pregnancy, hormonal changes can affect the ligaments and joints, including those in the pelvic region. Understanding these changes can help you adapt your movements, avoid unnecessary strain and take appropriate precautions to support your pelvic floor.
- The power of gravity: Using gravity to your advantage during labor can help facilitate the descent of the baby through the birth canal. Exploring different positions, such as upright or squatting or on all fours, may help optimize the forces of gravity, reducing strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Consider learning a few techniques in which your birth partner may assist you in using gravity to your advantage.
At Memorial Hermann, we are committed to supporting you on your journey to optimal pelvic floor health. Consult with your health care professionals affiliated with Memorial Hermann to personalize your care and receive the support you deserve.
Ask your provider about a referral to PFPT during pregnancy if you’re experiencing pain, need help staying active, or want to learn more about preparing for delivery.
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