Pregnancy and motherhood are such rewarding times for parents. While our bodies go through quite dramatic changes during pregnancy, most of those changes go back to normal within a few weeks following childbirth. It is not unusual for some to be worried about these changes to your body from being pregnant.
If you are someone who is worrying, make sure you fit these quick exercises into your daily routine and they can make a massive difference. One common symptom that may stick around following childbirth if not properly dealt with beforehand, is urinary incontinence. This has everything to do with the strength of the pelvic floor and your abdominals.
What is the pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a muscle that expands from the front of your pelvis to the bottom of your backbone, almost like a hammock. If these muscles are weak, it can cause women later in pregnancy or after childbirth to leak urine while doing things such as sneezing, coughing or straining. This is called stress incontinence.
To reduce or avoid having this issue, pelvic floor strengthening exercises are key.
What can we do to strengthen our pelvic floor?
Many of us have heard of kegel exercises which are the specific exercises used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises should be performed a few times daily before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth.
To perform these exercises:
- Begin by tightening the muscles that would stop the flow of urine
- Hold these muscles tight for 10 seconds
- Relax 10 seconds
- Do this 8-10 times
- Try to perform these exercises at least 3x/day
When beginning, it may be difficult to hold the exercise for very long. Start slowly and work daily to increase your time that you are able to hold these muscles tight.
Tightening these muscles when coughing, sneezing or straining is also a great way to improve the strength.
What can we do to strengthen our core during pregnancy?
Developing a strong core is also a great benefit to add to pregnancy. Having strong abdominal musculature aids while pushing during childbirth and helps the sense of control throughout. If there is weakness in these muscles, the intensity of labor and delivery can increase. Belly breathing is such a simple yet effective way to strengthen your abdominals.
- Begin by sitting on the floor with legs crossed and lower back supported by the wall
- Place your hands on your belly
- Slowly take a deep breath in through your nose and expand your belly
- Exhale through your mouth and draw in your abdominals, bringing your navel in towards your spine Another great way to keep a strong core throughout pregnancy is to practice good posture. This helps reduce pressure on both abdominals and the low back to keep the body supported.
There are a number of other abdominal strengthening exercises that can be performed such as standing side crunches, dumbbell side bends, bird dog, kneeling side planks and kneeling side reaches. We will be getting into these more in later blog posts, but these exercises should always be discussed with your Obstetrician before beginning this or any exercise routine.
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*This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Meghan Touron and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Dr. Touronr does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Reach Health and Wellness Chiropractic is located in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area specifically in Collegedale, TN, a short distance from Ooltewah, Cleveland, East Brainerd, East Ridge, Ringgold, Apison, and Harrison.