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  • Jennifer Kruger, PhD

Understanding the power of the pelvic floor during childbirth

 

The pelvic floor muscles (which sit at the base of the pelvis) are one of the most remarkable muscles in the body.  Whether you're expecting, have recently given birth, or are simply mindful of your pelvic health, the value of exercises and techniques that promote strength and flexibility of this muscle group has huge benefits.


Adapted from: Continence Foundation of Australia 2011
Adapted from: Continence Foundation of Australia 2011

They are one of two horizontal muscle groups (the other being the diaphragm). In women, they need to be able to support the organs of the pelvis that is the bladder, uterus and bowel (rectum) during normal activities.  They need to relax for you to urinate (pee), empty your bowel (poo) and be flexible to allow the uterus to expand enormously during pregnancy, yet still be able to function.


These muscles play a vital role during the actual birth process.  They need to extend to 3.5X their normal resting length (which if you asked any other muscle to do this – it would pop!) to help with babies’ head twisting and turning as it makes its way through the birth canal, and once it is all over, to go back to normal!  In engineering terms, this would be nearly impossible.  Yet remarkably, most times, it does exactly that!



Computational model showing stretching of all the pelvic floor muscles as the baby's head descends through the bony pelvis.

Computational model showing stretching of all the pelvic floor muscles as the baby's head descends through the bony pelvis.


Source: X. Yan (2018 Auckland Bioengineering Institute)




Sometimes though, our pelvic floor muscles need a little help.  30% of women will experience symptoms of incontinence (any involuntary leakage of urine) during their lifetime. Starting pelvic floor exercises when you are pregnant, is a perfect time to learn where they are, how to contract and RELAX, which will help with the birthing process and make those brain to muscle connections.  It is equally important to connect with your pelvic floor, after birth, and start to gently exercise even two to three days after birth.

 

So how do you exercise your pelvic floor? 

 

Because we cannot see the muscle and it is difficult to know when you are squeezing and lifting the correct muscle (or are you trying to squeeze and lift your butt, abdominals or even squeezing your legs together?). Good biofeedback can really help. Femfit® is the only device that is designed to be soft, flexible and with an array of sensors to really give good feedback on if you have ‘found your pelvic floor’.  

Exercising the pelvic floor muscle starts with a good technique, knowing the difference between a contraction and relaxation, breathing with your pelvic floor muscle exercises, and following a programme that will make a difference.

 

Click here to  learn more and purchase your femfit®

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