Did you know one in three women experience pelvic floor weakness at some stage in their lives? It’s one of those things that Irish women don’t really talk about but it’s been no secret that I suffered from incontinence throughout any of my pregnancies.
Did you know one in three women experience pelvic floor weakness at some stage in their lives? It’s one of those things that Irish women don’t really talk about but it’s been no secret that I suffered from incontinence throughout all of my pregnancies. It was frustrating and downright embarrassing at times, I would leak almost every time I coughed, sneezed or laughed out loud but that is the reality.
A combination of hormone changes and extra weight from pregnancy can lead to pregnancy incontinence. That alone can be a huge strain and weakens your pelvic floor muscles before your baby is born. Our pelvic floor is a sling-like muscle that our bladder, bowel and uterus sit on. It gives us control over when we empty our bowels and bladder. A strong pelvic floor helps to support the extra weight during pregnancy and can help with healing after delivery by increasing the circulation of our blood.
There are so many symptoms associated with pelvic floor weakness. Some women find they need to go the toilet in a hurry, others find they need to go more frequently. Some people can find it difficult to empty their bowels or bladder and you can also break wind uncontrollably too.
After having children, a weak pelvic floor can cause problems like urinary incontinence, reduced sensitivity during sex (seriously who wants that?) and there is also the increased risk of a pelvic organ prolapse. And if I’m completely honest the last one scares the living daylights out of me.
If your pelvic floor needs some looking afterhere are some tips to help you get it back to where it's supposed to be:
- Practice simple pelvic floor muscle exercises by pulling your muscles in and up as hard as possible then relax while you are going about your day. You can do this as your brushing your teeth, peeling potatoes or even playing with the kids. Do it five times hard and then five times slow, after a couple of weeks you will notice an improvement in your pelvic floor muscles.
- Next time you need to go the toilet once you start peeing try stop or slow down the floor. Pull your muscles tight and upwards.
- During the day or even in bed try to squeeze your bum closed and draw your vagina upwards and upwards, hold it for three to five seconds and let go. Do this five times in a row numerous times throughout the day. As the days and weeks and you find your pelvic floor getting stronger aim to increase it to ten seconds.
- If you are about to cough, laugh, sneeze or do any activity where you think you might leak, try squeeze and hold it hard. Try contract your pelvic floor muscle until the activity is over.
Ideally, you should start practising pelvic floor exercises during your pregnancy - prevention is always better than a cure.
Written by Kellie Kearney staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.mylittlebabog.com.