Apr 8, 2014

Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor


Before giving birth to my first child 4 weeks ago, I had never thought twice about my pelvic floor, let alone how strong it was. Well, things have changed. Now I notice...all day, every day.  I took for granted the ability to stand and walk for more than 10 minutes at a time without feeling like my insides might fall out.
I learned from one of my challengers that once you become a mom, nothing is TMI.  So true.  That being said, I’m sorry if you are NOT a mom and reading this...because I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty details.
I’ve been recovering (and will continue my recovery) from 2nd degree tears on the INSIDE.  When this happens, muscle tears occur as well.  Just like if you were to tear a muscle like your calf or hamstring, it takes rest and rehabilitation in order to heal properly and feel better.
An estimated 20% of women have a dysfunctional pelvic floor after child birth.  You are not alone!

Here are 4 signs of pelvic floor dysfunction:
1.     Incontinence- leakage during coughing, sneezing, laughing, and/or exercise.
2.     Levator ani syndrom- pain, feeling of tightness, burning, or feeling of incomplete defecation (yeah I went there).
3.     Constipation- this is due to poor GI or rectal motility, NOT from diet or food sensitivities.
4.     Hemorrhoids

If you are experiencing any of these issues, here are some exercised you can do to help:

1.     Deep belly breathing- Here is a test:  place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.  Take a DEEP breath in and watch which hand moves.  Most likely, the hand on your chest moved.  This is bad because you are not using your diaphragm, but only shallow breathing through your lungs, making your pelvic floor weak.  This takes practice, but your goal should be to ONLY move the hand that is placed on your belly when breathing.  Think about pushing the air deep down into your abdomen and expanding a full 360* around your waist.  Breathing this way forces your pelvic floor to contract and support the air in your diaphragm, strengthening it.

2.     Laying on your back, knees at 90*- when in this position focus on pulling the belly button to the spine.

3.     Practice Yoga- When you practice yoga a few times a week, there are so many benefits!  One of those is strength.  You can strengthen your pelvic floor and entire core.  When you are in the poses, practice that “deep belly breathing.”  Push the air all the way down into your bottom.

The next time you see a young baby, I want you to watch how they breath.  When they breath, their belly expands rather than their chest.  This is how we are created and meant to breath.  Here is a short clip of my babe breathing.  I promise that is his belly button...its very big because his cord was very unique when he was born.
video


My hubby has been helping me with these and helped me put all of this together.  I hope you can try some of these exercises and tips.  Especially the breathing...how easy is it to breath throughout the day?!  Ha!  Let me know what you think on this topic!  I would love your feedback.


5 comments:

  1. My prenatal yoga instructor (also a doula) said that one of the best things you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor is to walk barefoot!! Who knew?!

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    1. Crazy!!! I always knew that minimal footwear was good for our feet and body but never thought about our pelvic floor! I'll be taking my shoes off now!

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  2. I tore a lot on the inside too and it took me a long time to recover from it, it wasn't fun. Thanks for these exercise tips! I don't really realize when I am breathing "using my chest".

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    1. Yes! Recovery stinks! I hope these help! Happy belly breathing :)

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    2. With my daughter I had EXTREME tearing. I think the technical term is stage 4 or 5. Which included inside and outside tearing. It took them 45 min to finish my stitches! My recovery was worse than a c-section, but my doctor also told me that I would always be working to recover my pelvic floor. Ah the things we do for kids!!
      Great post Maggie!

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