We all get told to do our pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and after birth, are you performing them exercise optimally?
Do you understand the pelvic floor muscle, its anatomy and its function?
Lets start with this last question, the pelvic floor muscle consists of two layers, deep muscles located a little further up within the pelvis itself and an outer layer of muscles, which are between the anus and vagina (these are the ones you can feel when you pull up to stop urine). The two layers of muscles are separated by soft tissue, making it bouncy when pressure is applied. The deep pelvic floor muscle supports the uterus, lower part of the bladder, abdominal contents and the outer muscles support the anus and vagina, they also form the perineum.
It is really important to exercise the pelvic floor muscle the right way for birth and postpartum, avoiding over tightening the muscles, especially in preparation for birth, unfortunately this can often happen when doing traditional methods of pelvic floor exercises (pulling up and releasing). In preparation for birth you ideally want the deeper muscle layer to be flexible and relax the outer pelvic floor muscle layer, this will help the opening of the pelvis during the birthing process and aid an uncomplicated natural birth.
Pelvic floor exercises that will encourage deep pelvic floor muscle flexibility are pelvic tilts,
while drawing your tailbone and pubic bone towards each other and your two sit bones towards each other (bones in your bottom), avoid pulling up the pelvic floor the way you may previously have been used to.
Try doing pelvic tilts regularly, 10-15 reps 3-4 times a week, these are not as discreet as traditional pelvic floor exercises, so you will need to make time to do these either lying or standing (standing only for for second and third trimester). This is a more gentle and effective approach than traditional pelvic floor exercises and can be incorporated into many functional exercises as opposed to doing isolated pelvic floor exercises, this approach will keep the muscles stretchy and will aid stress incontinence also, for after birth and as women get older.