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Pt 2. Pelvic Floor Muscle Training In Pregnancy.

Recent research shows that there is strong evidence for pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence during pregnancy and postpartum.

There is also evidence that pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a prolonged second stage of labour, reduce the chance of obstructed labour, reduce the risk of perineal tears, and reduce postpartum perineal pain.

Before, during and after pregnancy it’s important to ensure you have a strong pelvic floor, but it’s just as important to ensure you are able to relax it and let go (the opposite of a pelvic floor contraction). In previous blogs we have discussed the importance of pelvic floor strength in relation to our deeper core and reducing the risk of incontinence and prolapse, but in terms of giving birth your pelvic floor requires stretch and mobility in order to allow the baby through smoothly while reducing the risk of tearing. Training the coordination between contraction and relaxation will also allow you to identify how to relax during the pushing phase of labour.

To achieve this:

1. Training pelvic floor muscle relaxation. This can be done with verbal cueing or a feedback device with the help of your Women’s health physio.

Pebble dropping into water. This is one of the visualisation cues we give women to assist in relaxing their pelvic floor prior to delivery.

Example of a verbal cue we use to help with the relaxation/OFF phase is the pebble analogy.

Picture a pebble falling into the centre of a still pond. Imagine the ripples spreading outwards to the edges of the pond. This is your pelvic floor relaxing, dropping down, and opening around your passages. Give this a go and focus on breathing mindfully as you do it.

It is recommended that all women have their pelvic floor assessed prior to commencing pelvic floor muscle training as the type of pelvic floor exercises required differs from person to person depending on the baseline function of your pelvic floor muscles. If you're interested in commencing pelvic floor muscle training, book in to see one of our Women’s Health Physiotherapists for a thorough assessment.

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