Your pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that stretch from your pubic bone to your tailbone. It supports the organs in your pelvis, including your bladder, uterus, and bowel, and as you might imagine, takes a beating during pregnancy and delivery.
What is your pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a key set of deep muscles situated in the pelvis, running from the pubic bone to the base of the spine. Shaped like a basin, the pelvic floor is a “sling” that holds all of the pelvic organs in place. In addition to providing control over bladder leaks, strong pelvic floor muscles can also improve core strength and posture.
How does the pelvic floor affect pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor stretches to make room for your growing bundle of joy. Over time, the muscles become weak from being stretched and weighed down and may not bounce back to provide adequate support. This can affect your ability to control your bladder when you run, jump, bounce, or sneeze. Like all muscles, the pelvic floor needs regular exercise to function optimally, especially after pregnancy and childbirth.
How do you know if you have a weak pelvic floor?
While not commonly discussed, some common symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include the following:
- Leaking urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or run
- Difficulty holding your bladder
- Reduced sensation in the vagina
- Tampons that dislodge or slip
- A bulge at the vaginal opening
How long does it take to strengthen the pelvic floor?
With targeted exercises, consistency, and patience, you may notice an improvement in the integrity of your pelvic floor in as little as 4 weeks. For some, it may take longer – up to 3 months – to see a major change.
Simple exercises can be done anywhere and involve tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor, as if you are stopping the flow of urination, and holding for a count of 10. Relax the muscles completely before starting another repetition.
Poses to strengthen your pelvic floor
Yoga is a fantastic way to provide support to your pelvic floor strengthening routine and these 5 postures are a great place to start.
While standing in mountain pose, place a yoga block between your inner thighs and concentrate on squeezing the block and lifting it upwards.
Sit deep into your squat and think about lifting your pelvic floor up and back as if you were stopping the flow of urination.
Once you are in your warrior stance, engage your core and lift up the pelvic floor as you did in chair pose; hold for 3-5 slow breaths and repeat on the other side.
As you relax on your back in this posture, gently engage your abdominal muscles and lift the pelvic floor; hold for several slow breaths and release.
This posture engages the glutes, back, and pelvic floor making it a great strengthening posture. As you engage your glutes and low back to lift your chest off the floor, lift your pelvic floor so all the muscles of your core are working in concert.