Before I had my first baby, I read a little about pelvic floor exercises and did a few kegels, but I was really into the idea that my body intuitively knew how to have a baby and would know what to do when the time was right. I was right and wrong about this.
After I had my first baby, I had and experience common to many moms – I had a really hard time holding my bladder when I laughed, coughed, sneezed, jogged or jumped. It was embarrassing, uncomfortable and inconvenient.
When I was pregnant with my second child, it got so bad that I knew I needed help! Since then, I’ve been on a quest to improve the health of my pelvic floor. I can honestly say that working on my pelvic floor has changed my life. I can’t do EVERYTHING I would like to with total confidence, but I can sneeze, and that is a huge deal to me.
I’m not a medical profession, so depending on your circumstances, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about any urinary incontinence issues you’re having.
But I will say that as a starting point to having more fitness and feeling more comfortable in your body, the BEST exercise regimen you can start is one that starts with your pelvic floor. I’ve found the exercises I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks and that I learned from my reading, practice and physical therapist to be life changing. I hope you’ll join me.
Get in touch with your pelvic floor.
An Informal Introduction
The female pelvis is an amazing thing. When you’re pregnant, the bones of your hips become more flexible, so they can separate a bit to create room for your baby to be born. The muscles of your pelvic floor form a “basket” that connects to your abs and butt muscles to hold all of your internal organs up and in. Then, when you have a baby, these muscles stretch and release your baby, then they come back together to work normally. Now, when they come back together, they won’t be as strong as they were before they stretched to let your baby out – unless you help them. But with some well placed effort, you can see big improvements!
Having a Strong Core is not all About your Abs
It has been my observation that many women spend a lot of time working on their abs to pull “in” but neglect their pelvic floor. But, I believe that all movement comes from your pelvic floor, and to have a truly strong core, you need to start from the bottom up.
If you only exercise your abs, you could be starting a downward spiral, your strong powerful ab muscles push your pelvic floor more “down”and so they don’t have the strength to lift your bladder and other organs up and support them when you jog, cough, sneeze, jump, etc.
Lay down and relax
Today’s pelvic floor challenge is to just feel the muscles. The easiest way to do this is to lay down on your back. This helps because when you’re laying down there’s no weight or pressure on your pelvic floor muscles from holding up your body.
As you lay on the floor try to totally relax your muscles. The best way to do this is take a breath in through your mouth and into your chest, as you exhale blow and push your belly out. This will relax the muscles of your vagina and perineum and just try to let them stay relaxed as you inhale.
It will feel uncomfortable at first.
As long as your belly is moving up as you blow out, you are relaxing your pelvic floor.
For many people, your pelvic floor is unfamiliar part of your body. The first step to strengthening these muscles is to get a feeling for where they are an how they move!
In case you like more instructions (I know I do!) I’ve recorded some brief instructions here to help you practice!