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Tips for Protecting Your Pelvic Floor in Pregnancy and Labor

Hey there, lovely parents-to-be and curious souls alike! In this post, we’re covering all things pelvic floor – yes, that oh-so-important muscle group that deserves a spotlight, especially during pregnancy and labor. Your pelvic floor is always at work, but pregnancy and labor call for it to work in very specific ways. How can you protect it throughout that process? Let’s dive in!

Image of a pelvic floor anatomical model from a doctor's office

So, What Is the Pelvic Floor?

First things first, let’s give a round of applause to our pelvic floor. 👏🏾 Seriously, it’s the unsung hero of our bodies: supporting our organs, keeping things in place, and playing a crucial role in childbirth.

For those who might be scratching their heads, wondering what on earth the pelvic floor is, let me break it down for you. Picture a hammock of muscles cradling your pelvic organs – bladder, uterus, and rectum. That’s your pelvic floor! It’s like the ultimate multitasker, helping you with everything from maintaining bladder control to supporting your baby bump. Pelvic muscles are like muscular underwear inside our body. 

Image of a woman holding her hands on her pregnant belly.

The Pregnancy Journey

Ah, pregnancy… a beautiful rollercoaster ride filled with excitement, anticipation, and – let’s face it – a few challenges, too. As your body goes through the incredible journey of growing a tiny human, your pelvic floor is also getting in on the action, and keeping it healthy during pregnancy is crucial for your overall well-being.

Here are some friendly tips to keep your pelvic floor happy and healthy during pregnancy:

1. Embrace Pelvic Floor Exercises

These simple exercises involve contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles, helping to improve muscle tone and prevent leaks. Incorporate them into your daily routine like a boss!

2. Stay Active

Pregnancy-safe exercises like walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga (especially deep squats!) – or mindful adaptations of current exercise routinescan work wonders for your pelvic floor muscles. Plus, staying active can help you maintain overall health and reduce the risk of pelvic floor problems down the road.

3. Hydration + Fiber

Drinking plenty of water and eating a diet rich in fiber can help prevent constipation, a common issue during pregnancy that can strain the pelvic floor. Opt for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to keep your digestive system happy and your pelvic floor healthy.

4. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Pregnancy can be a stressful time, but finding ways to relax can benefit both your mental and pelvic floor health. Try practicing deep breathing, meditation, massage, or gentle stretching to help release tension and promote relaxation.

5. Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to how your body feels and listen to its cues. If something doesn’t feel right or if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in your pelvic area, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider or a pelvic health specialist (like me!) for guidance and support.

Remember, taking care of your pelvic floor during pregnancy isn’t just about preventing problems – it’s about nurturing your body and preparing it for the incredible journey of childbirth and motherhood. So be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and prioritize your pelvic floor health every step of the way!

Image of a two nurses helping a woman deliver a baby with a man beside the woman, holding her hand.

The Labor and Birth Process

When the big day finally arrives, your pelvic floor takes center stage in the feat of childbirth. It’s a force within (and literally IN) your body, working hard to help you bring your baby into the world. Keeping your pelvic floor healthy during labor is essential for a smoother childbirth experience and better postpartum recovery.

Here are some tips to help protect your pelvic floor during labor and delivery:

1. Stay Relaxed

Easier said than done, right? But staying relaxed during labor can actually help your pelvic floor muscles work more effectively. Try practicing relaxation techniques like visualization or listening to calming music to help ease tension. Deep breathing or low sounds (think “om” chanting) can also be beneficial. It’s often said, “Relax the throat and the pelvic floor will relax, too.”

2. Change Positions

Experiment with different labor positions, such as standing, kneeling, sitting on a birthing ball, or using a squat bar. Changing positions can help relieve pressure on your pelvic floor and encourage optimal fetal positioning for a smoother delivery.

3. Trust Your Body

Your body was made for this! Pay attention to your body’s cues during labor and trust your instincts. If you feel the urge to push, follow your body’s lead and work with your contractions rather than against them. Pushing in sync with your body’s natural rhythm can help prevent unnecessary strain on your pelvic floor muscles.

4. Use Gravity to Your Advantage

When you’re in active labor, gravity can be your best friend. Consider standing, walking, or squatting during contractions to allow gravity to assist in the descent of your baby through the birth canal. This can reduce the strain on your pelvic floor muscles and make pushing more effective.

5. Use Support Techniques:

Enlist the help of your birth partner, doula, or labor support team to provide physical and emotional support during labor. Massage, counter-pressure, and gentle touch can help alleviate tension and discomfort in your pelvic area, promoting relaxation and optimal pelvic floor function.

By following these tips and listening to your body’s needs, you can help protect your pelvic floor and optimize your chances of a positive childbirth experience. Remember, every labor is unique, so don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself and make choices that feel right for you and your baby!

Image of two women sitting together, one of whom is pregnant.

TL;DR

Your pelvic floor is a powerhouse, but it also may need a little more TLC during pregnancy and postpartum. Staying active, practicing Kegels, and working on your posture during pregnancy may help prep it for labor. Relaxing, opening, and trusting your body to do the work during labor is key. Paying attention to your pelvic floor now will benefit you throughout this incredible journey called motherhood! (And if you need any support – whether now or postpartum – you can reach out for help! I’m always here.)

Namaste,

Dr. Darshana
The Pelvic Gyan

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