Exercising your pelvic floor muscles after having a baby is important for all women – even if you have had a caesarean delivery and even if you do not have symptoms.
The pelvic floor is the ‘sling’ that supports the bladder, bowel and uterus. It is made up of layers of muscles and other supportive tissues that stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis.
Jean Hailes physiotherapist Amy Steventon lists five good reasons for doing pelvic floor exercises. They are to:
During pregnancy, a woman’s pelvic floor muscles weaken due to hormonal changes and the weight of the growing baby. These muscles also stretch as the baby moves down the birth canal, says Ms Steventon.
“In the second and the third trimesters of pregnancy, and in the first three months following childbirth, about one in three women experience urinary incontinence [the unwanted and involuntary leakage of urine],” she says.
“And up to one in 10 women will experience faecal incontinence, that is the leakage of faeces [poo].”
Ms Steventon says bladder and bowel leakage can be common during pregnancy and the post-partum period, but that pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen these weakened muscles and improve any bladder or bowel symptoms you may have.
She also advises you to see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
A women’s health physiotherapist can also help in managing the above symptoms, as well as other issues such as: