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Can You Prevent Pelvic Floor Dysfunction During Pregnancy?

Hey Mary-
Is there anything you can do during pregnancy to prevent pelvic floor issues postpartum?

Absolutely. In my opinion, everyone should prepare their pelvic floor for birth during pregnancy.

When you paint your walls, or paint furniture, it’s typically a good practice to start with a coat of primer.  

Can you start without a primer?  Of course, it will probably look okay.  But, that badass color you selected will look better underneath a coat of primer, and it will last longer, too.

Giving birth is no different. Can you have your baby without preparing your body, and pelvic floor for birth? Sure. But there’s a great chance your experience will go smoother, and leave you with less discomfort if you prep for the big day.

The truth is, pregnancy alone is a risk factor for pelvic floor dysfunction, so I can’t promise any magic movements that will automatically eliminate your risk.  But that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and do nothing.  

Taking care of your pelvic floor during pregnancy will help your birth, it may prevent pelvic floor dysfunction, and the work you do on your pelvic floor during pregnancy will prime your pelvic floor to heal faster postpartum.

So how do you prime your pelvic floor for postpartum recovery?  Here’s my recipe for the perfect primer:

  1. Breathe

I know, I know.  It’s hard to breathe during pregnancy, and the shortness of breath you feel is real.  But your pelvic floor moves with your breath.  

👉🏼 As you inhale, your entire rib cage should expand.  If your ribcage can expand, your pelvic floor can lengthen and relax.  As you exhale, your pelvic floor shortens and lifts.  Your pelvic floor, like all your muscles, needs to both lengthen and shorten to be happy!  If you are stuck in shallow breathing patterns, your pelvic floor doesn’t get a chance to relax, and your pelvic floor won’t be happy.  

Fight for that good 360 degree rib cage expansion on your inhale for as long as you can.  And when you can no longer hold onto it, be kind to yourself.  Your body’s doing exactly what it needs to do.

  1. Get to know your pelvic floor

Learn where it is.  Learn what it does.  Learn what it feels like to lift your pelvic floor, and learn what it feels like to let your pelvic relax.  If you understand your pelvic floor, it will be much easier to catch any problems postpartum.  The sooner you catch a problem, the sooner you can get help, and the quicker you will heal.

Click here to sign up for The Free Pelvic Floor Workshop for Moms- your pelvic floor 101 course.

  1. Strengthen the pelvic floor supports

Your glutes, abdominal muscles and inner thighs are pelvic floor helpers!  When those big, strong muscles can do your job, your pelvic floor can relax.  When they don’t do their job, your pelvic floor will compensate to provide stability.  The pelvic floor is strong, but it can’t do the work of the glutes, abs and/or inner thighs.  

Keep those muscle groups strong throughout your pregnancy! Yoga is great for this.

  1. Let it go

Your pelvic floor DOES NOT push your baby out.  Your uterus pushes your baby out.  Your pelvic floor has to lengthen and relax for your baby to easily exit the birth canal.  A tight pelvic floor can prolong the second stage of labor (the pushing stage).

You must practice conscious relaxation of your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy if you want them to relax for birth.  If you don’t know how or you aren’t sure if you are, I highly recommend working with a pelvic floor physical therapist throughout your pregnancy.  They’ll teach you!

Ready to get started?

Join me for Birth Prep with Mary- a free, online workshop where you will learn exactly how to prep your pelvic floor for birth. We'll meet on May 16th at 2:30pm EST.

This class is for anyone who is currently pregnant, and safe for all trimesters. A recording will be sent out in case you can’t make it live. Click here to sign up.

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