Pelvic Floor. To squeeze or not to squeeze. Pre/post natal essentials

Do I need to train my pelvic floor when I’m pregnant?

YES.

During pregnancy there is a lot of downwards pressure from your growing baby and uterus. Add to this a pregnant posture where your pelvis tips and adds more downwards pressure and lots of pregnancy hormones which can do funny things to your lady parts. Training your pelvic floor is a pregnancy essential.

Will pelvic floor muscles help with delivery?

YES.

Your pelvic floor muscles will help to push baby out, the healthier they are, the better equipped you’ll be to get baby out under your own steam. A well trained pelvic floor BEFORE delivery will also pay dividends when it comes to birth recovery.

What about C-sections – do I still need to bother?

YES.

You might not get to the pushing out part but you’ll still have had the same pregnancy hormones and downwards pressure throughout your pregnancy.

Have I left it too late?

NO.

It is never too late. Don’t forget that you don’t just have to squeeze to train your pelvic floor muscles. The more active you are, the more they’ll be working anyway. But it’s always good to put in some dedicated pregnancy practice.

So I just have to squeeze once a day?

NO.

Squeeze as often as you can. And don’t forget to squat, walk, lift, relax and pulse too. All those other ways to ensure your bits are in the best shape for pregnancy, labour and recovery that we learn in class.

So what do I actually have to do to train them?

Squeeze, lift, squat, pulse, slowly lift, slowly relax – there are so many ways. Your pelvic floor works constantly but also at an intense level when you sneeze (or orgasm). Think of it like sprinting and endurance. The best place to start is on a hard chair. Lift up and you’ll get feedback from something hard underneath you.

Why is it so important?

According to a 2000 study published by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at least one in three women is affected by pelvic floor disorders (PFD) and these are just reported cases. The University of Adelaide study found urinary incontinence affects 17% to 45% of adult women – with age being a big factor. Surgery is an absolute last resort. Pelvic floor exercises are THE BEST WAY to keep your pelvic floor healthy and functional.

I pee a little when I laugh or cough – isn’t that just normal?

NO.

A little problem when you are young could be a much bigger problem when you hit the menopause/get older and lose a lot of muscle tone.

What increases my risk of pelvic floor problems?

  • Big babies;
  • Hysterectomy;
  • Being overweight;
  • Being inactive;
  • Forceps or other birth intervention;
  • A chronic cough;
  • Menopause; and
  • Age at which you deliver your first baby.

What about once I’ve had the baby – how long will it be until I can feel them again?

Everyone is different but even if you can’t feel them straight away you need to start doing your exercises to help healing and recovery.

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.fit-school.co.uk

 

Back to School (by guest blogger Lucy Bannister)

Back to School. Back to Mind

By guest blogger Lucy Bannister (http://www.lucyoga.co.uk/)

Yep, no matter if you have kids or not, September has a ‘Back to School’ feeling about it. And for me September is always a busy month and if I’m not careful I’m steaming headlong into Christmas before I’ve blinked.

So that’s why today’s email is about taking time to blink. To stop. To breathe. To go with the flow.

I want to encourage you to slow down a bit repeatedly throughout the day.

All this is inspired by a quote that popped into me Facebook feed this week: “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” (Ghandi)

PinkFlowers

We are so conditioned to be busy, to keep going at all costs, to push through, that we can easily forget that by stopping to meditate or do yoga we can actually achieve more. We can slow down, appreciate what is happening, where we are and have clarity of purpose and task.

Many of you have commented that you find it hard to do yoga at home. But you don’t have to make it a special thing (although that is lovely and I strongly encouraging finding a space in your week to have a home yoga practice); you can do yoga anywhere at any time. Yoga is the unity of body and mind, being still in the present moment not getting sweaty, throwing crazy shapes or standing on a rubber mat.

Your challenge:

Set an alarm or reminder for every two hours during your working day. When your reminder goes off take five minutes to sit and breathe or go for a silent walk outside or find somewhere to do your favourite yoga pose or meditate – whatever you like as long as it doesn’t involve technology, cigarettes, stimulants or other people!

If every two hours is too frequent, try twice a day to start with and see if you can build it up through the week.

Like the results? Try doing it outside of work too, taking regular ‘time outs’ in the evening and weekends to bring body and mind together.

If you can spare 10 minutes for your ‘time out’ and you have access to You Tube on your mobile device, grab some headphones and head out to the park or quiet place near work and use this mediation, made especially for busy people: http://youtu.be/zIsg5voCmuY

Don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I am joining you with this challenge too so we can share our experiences.

Lucy teaches Dru yoga in London. She teaches yoga for Fit School at Northern Trust as well as popular rooftop yoga sessions in Peckham. http://www.lucyoga.co.uk/