Pregnancy is a remarkable period that brings about profound changes to a woman's body. Throughout this extraordinary process, the pelvic floor plays a pivotal role in supporting the developing fetus and adapting to the demands of pregnancy. Pelvic floor therapy is a valuable and holistic approach to address the unique challenges that pregnancy poses to this vital group of muscles. Focusing on overall pelvic health, this specialized form of therapy offers many benefits that contribute to the comfort and welfare of expectant mothers.
What happens to your pelvic floor during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, significant changes occur in your body, including changes to the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles stretch and expand to accommodate the growing uterus and the weight of the baby. Hormonal changes, increased pressure on the pelvic organs, and the natural relaxation of ligaments can affect the strength, coordination, and function of the pelvic floor muscles. These changes can lead to various pelvic floor conditions or symptoms such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or perineal discomfort.
What are the benefits of pelvic floor therapy during pregnancy?
By focusing on strengthening, flexibility, and overall pelvic health, pelvic floor therapy offers an array of benefits that contribute to the well-being of both expectant mothers and their growing babies, including the following:
Education and Awareness
Pelvic floor therapists can provide comprehensive education about the changes occurring in the pelvic floor during pregnancy. Understanding these changes and learning proper techniques for pelvic floor exercises, body mechanics, and bladder and bowel habits empowers you to take an active role in maintaining pelvic health.
Prevention and Management of Pelvic Floor Conditions
Pelvic floor conditions during pregnancy can be prevented or minimized by pelvic floor therapy. By addressing muscle imbalances, optimizing muscle tone and flexibility, and improving coordination, you can reduce the risk of issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, or prolapse.
Preparation for Labor and Delivery
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and learning relaxation strategies can enhance their endurance and flexibility, potentially promoting a smoother labor and reducing the risk of perineal trauma.Pelvic floor therapists can guide you in specific exercises and techniques to prepare the pelvic floor for labor and delivery.
Pelvic floor therapy during pregnancy sets the foundation for postpartum recovery. By maintaining good pelvic floor health during pregnancy, you can expedite the healing process after childbirth. A strong, well-functioning pelvic floor supports the recovery of the perineum, abdominal muscles, and overall pelvic stability.
What pelvic floor conditions might arise as your pregnancy progresses?
As each trimester unfolds, unique challenges arise, potentially leading to a range of discomforts and concerns related to pelvic floor health. During pregnancy you may experience various pelvic floor conditions or symptoms, including the following:
The increased pressure on the bladder and hormonal changes can lead to stress urinary incontinence, characterized by leakage of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, or exercising.
Hormonal changes and the strain on the pelvic floor can cause pelvic pain or discomfort, including symphysis pubis dysfunction, round ligament pain, or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The weight of the growing uterus can put pressure on the pelvic organs, potentially leading to pelvic organ prolapse, where one or more organs descend into the vaginal canal.
Perineal discomfort or pain can occur due to stretching, tearing, or episiotomy during childbirth. It may impact sitting, walking, or performing daily activities.
When should you work with a pelvic floor therapist?
Collaborating with a skilled pelvic floor therapist can prove to be an invaluable resource, guiding individuals through tailored exercises, education, and support to address existing concerns and prevent potential complications. It is beneficial to work with a pelvic floor therapist during pregnancy if you:
Experience Symptoms or Discomfort
If you are experiencing symptoms such as urinary leakage, pelvic pain, or discomfort, seeking the expertise of a pelvic floor therapist can provide relief and support.
Want to Prepare for Labor and Delivery
Engaging in pelvic floor therapy during pregnancy can help you prepare physically and mentally for labor and delivery. Learning proper breathing techniques, relaxation strategies, and pelvic floor exercises tailored for labor can enhance your overall birth experience.
Have a History of Pelvic Floor Conditions
If you have a pre-existing pelvic floor condition or have previously undergone pelvic floor surgery, working with a pelvic floor therapist during pregnancy can help manage and prevent exacerbation of the condition. A pelvic floor therapist can provide specialized guidance and exercises to ensure the best possible outcome for both you and your baby.
Desire to Optimize Postpartum Recovery
Pelvic floor therapy during pregnancy can lay the foundation for a smoother postpartum recovery. By addressing any existing pelvic floor issues and promoting optimal muscle function, you can facilitate healing and regain strength and control more efficiently after childbirth.
Need Guidance for Pelvic Floor Exercises
Many women are unsure about the correct way to perform pelvic floor exercises or have difficulty properly engaging their pelvic floor muscles. Working with a pelvic floor therapist can provide you with personalized guidance and feedback, ensuring that you are performing exercises correctly and effectively.
Remember, it is never too early or too late to seek the assistance of a pelvic floor therapist during pregnancy. They can assess your individual needs, develop a tailored treatment plan, and provide ongoing support throughout your pregnancy journey.
Pelvic floor therapy during pregnancy offers numerous benefits, including education, prevention, and management of pelvic floor conditions, preparation for labor and delivery, and optimized postpartum recovery. If you experience symptoms or discomfort, want to prepare for childbirth, have a history of pelvic floor conditions, or need guidance for pelvic floor exercises, seeking the expertise of a pelvic floor therapist can be highly beneficial. By prioritizing your pelvic health during pregnancy, you can enhance your overall well-being and promote a smoother transition into the postpartum phase.