Everything You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Health During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of profound change and growth, both within and outside the body. Understanding the relationship between pregnancy and your pelvic floor is essential for maintaining your overall well-being during this transformative period. Here, a female surgeon and pelvic floor specialist provides insights into the dynamic interplay between pregnancy and the pelvic floor, along with practical advice to support your health and prevent pelvic floor problems.

The incredible pelvic floor

Before delving into the effects of pregnancy, let’s look at the significance of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that cradle the pelvic organs – the bladder, uterus, and rectum. This sturdy yet flexible structure plays a pivotal role in maintaining continence, supporting the uterus during pregnancy, and contributing to sexual function. Its strength and elasticity are vital for overall pelvic health.

Pregnancy’s impact on the pelvic floor

Pregnancy is a time of rapid changes in the body, and the pelvic floor doesn’t remain untouched. Here’s how pregnancy affects this essential part of your anatomy:

  • Hormonal changes: Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone surge during pregnancy to support foetal development. While these hormones are crucial, they can also lead to increased relaxation of pelvic floor muscles and ligaments. This can contribute to issues like urinary leakage and discomfort.
  • Weight and pressure: As the baby grows, the uterus expands, and places added pressure on the pelvic floor. This increased pressure can weaken the pelvic floor muscles over time, leading to issues like pelvic organ prolapse and pain.
  • Stretching and strain: During labour and delivery, the pelvic floor experiences significant stretching and strain. While this is a natural part of childbirth, it can result in muscle damage and contribute to postpartum pelvic floor issues.
  • Posture changes: The body adjusts its posture to accommodate the growing belly, which can alter the alignment of the pelvis. This change in alignment can impact the function of the pelvic floor muscles and potentially lead to discomfort or dysfunction.

Caring for your pelvic floor and preventing pelvic floor problems during pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor during pregnancy is an essential aspect of overall well-being. Here are practical steps you can take to support your pelvic floor health:

  1. Pelvic floor exercises: Engaging in regular pelvic floor exercises, including pilates and Kegels, can help strengthen the muscles that support the pelvic organs. Consult your healthcare provider or a pelvic floor specialist to ensure you’re performing these exercises correctly.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight: While weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy, maintaining a healthy weight within the recommended range can alleviate excess pressure on the pelvic floor.
  3. Work on good posture: Being mindful of your posture can help reduce strain on the pelvic floor. Avoid slouching and use pillows for support while sitting or sleeping.
  4. Stay hydrated and eat fibre-rich foods: Eating a balanced high-fibre diet and drinking plenty of water can prevent constipation, which can strain the pelvic floor muscles and lead to issues like haemorrhoids and other pelvic floor problems.
  5. Supportive clothing: Wearing supportive undergarments or maternity belts can help alleviate some of the pressure on the pelvic floor as your baby grows.
  6. Learn how to move: Learn about proper body mechanics during activities like lifting, bending, and exercising to minimise the strain on your pelvic floor.
  7. See a female surgeon and pelvic floor specialist: Many people feel embarrassed about health issues like incontinence, painful intercourse, constipation, and prolapse. It can be incredibly helpful and supportive to see a female surgeon who specialises in pelvic floor health!

Seeking professional guidance

Pelvic floor specialists encourage pregnant individuals to seek professional guidance to ensure a smooth pregnancy. Here’s when it’s advisable to consult a pelvic floor specialist:

  • Pre-pregnancy planning: If you’re planning to become pregnant, consider seeing a specialist to assess the condition of your pelvic floor and receive guidance on how to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy discomfort: If you’re experiencing pelvic pain, urinary leakage, or any other discomfort related to your pelvic floor during pregnancy, a specialist can offer tailored solutions.
  • Postpartum care: After childbirth, a pelvic floor specialist can assist with pelvic floor rehabilitation to help you recover strength and function.
  • Persistent issues: If you’re facing ongoing pelvic floor problems postpartum, such as prolapse, incontinence, or pain, consulting a specialist can provide insight and effective treatment options.

Looking for a female surgeon and pelvic floor specialist?

Pregnancy is a remarkable journey that brings both joy and challenges. Understanding the impact of pregnancy on your pelvic floor and taking proactive steps to maintain its health can contribute to a more comfortable and fulfilling experience. With access to a female surgeon and pelvic floor specialist, you’re empowered to get clear guidance, embrace self-care, and make informed choices to support your pelvic floor throughout this transformative time. Your pelvic floor health matters – invest in it for a smoother pregnancy journey and a healthier future.