Do you know about your pelvic floor? Most women are not aware of this
important part of their body or too embarrassed to talk about it.
This enigmatic part of your body changes in pregnancy and postpartum and
staying knowledgeable and proactive can prevent or lessen pelvic floor
Today we will delve into the mysteries of the pelvic floor.
YES! The pelvic floor is basically a layer of various pelvic muscles that
reaches from the tailbone to the pubic bone. Imagine it like a hammock or
a sling of muscles inside your bony pelvis extending from one side of the
pelvis to the other and from front to back.
These muscles support the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowel) and are
also part of the “core” muscles.
Most of us don’t realize that the pelvic muscles are essential part of our
core. We tend to focus on our abdominal muscles and glutes as the only core
muscles. The pelvic floor muscles links both abdominal and the glute muscles
and are a critical part of your core.
All of the above are important functions of your pelvic floor!
The pelvic floor plays an essential role in the following:
Lift: When the pelvic floor muscles contract, the internal organs
Support: The muscles of the pelvic floor with the abdominal and
back muscles to stabilize and support the spine.
Control: The pelvic floor muscles make up the sphincters that
tighten the anus and urethral openings.
Pleasure: Essential for sexual function and voluntary contractions
(squeezing) of the pelvic floor which makes up the vaginal muscles,
add to add sexual experience and stimulation.
Assist: Offer assistance of support to the baby during pregnancy
and during the birthing procedure.
TRUE! Okay so NOT physically connected but connected by partnership!
The pelvic muscles work in combination with the diaphragm by relaxing and
increasing the space the lungs have to expand. This is why breath is so
vital in connecting to the pelvic floor. These two parts also collaborate
with the deepest abdominal muscles (transverse and oblique abdominals) and
back muscles and work together to control pressure inside.
Let’s do a breathing exercise to demonstrate!
Try this breathing exercise:
Keep a neutral posture (hips are neither tipped forward nor
backward). To test this place one hand on the front of your pelvis
and one on the back with fingertips pointing down. If both hands
fingertip’s point toward the floor, your pelvis is in the correct
position. If not, shift your pelvis to allow your fingertips to
point straight down. Now you are correctly aligned!
Stack rib cage/diaphragm directly on top of the hips.
Keep upper chest neither puffed up nor rounded out
Inhale and fill your lungs with air, experience your rib cage
expanding all around and your belly rising.
Exhale and feel your rib cage contract
Envision/feel what is happening:
When you inhale: the diaphragm lowers, putting pressure into abdominal wall
and down on the pelvic floor, so belly should move out and pelvic floor
towards the ground.
When you exhale: the diaphragm rises as the abdominal wall moves in and the
pelvic floor lifts. You can strengthen the pelvic floor by contracting the
muscles ( as if you are stopping the flow of urine).
Approximately 60% of women experience pelvic floor muscle dysfunction after
It is not surprising that this complex organization of overlapping muscles
are susceptible to injury and damage, especially after during and after
pregnancy. Hormonal and mechanical changes during pregnancy such as
expanding weight in the abdomen and repetitive stresses, such as those that
occur during labor and delivery or with chronic constipation experienced in
pregnancy, can stretch and damage the muscles or nerves and cause pelvic
All of the above can be symptoms due to pelvic floor dysfunction.
The following are medical conditions due to pelvic floor dysfunction:
Urinary incontinence: loss of urine , frequency of urination
Fecal incontinence: unable to control bowel function
Chronic pelvic pain
Dysparuenia (pain during intercourse)
Pelvic organ prolapse- pressure in the pelvic floor or sometimes bulging
NO! There are other risk factors outside of pregnancy that increases the
risk of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Prolonged vigorous physical exertion ( running, gymnastics)
Constant heavy lifting
Good news is that pelvic floor dysfunction can improve with appropriate
strengthening/ stretching exercises!
You can strengthen your pelvic floor with more than just Kegals.
Some common exercises that help strengthen are squats, lunges and planks.
Remember that the pelvic floor forms part of the core so not only will you
strengthen your other core muscles but your pelvic floor muscles as well!
Just keep the pelvis in neutral position during the exercise. You can also
strengthen and stretch your pelvic floor muscles with some common yoga
poses such as pigeon pose, happy baby, chair pose, figure four pose,
warrior II pose and locus pose.
A physical therapist who specializes in women's pelvic health may be
helpful to work with you in specific techniques. Some women may need
biofeedback or medication.
Now, the pelvic floor should be more familiar to you. Think of your
pregnancy and postpartum journey as a time to get more attuned and familiar
with your body.
Being proactive about pelvic floor strengthening during and after pregnancy
can prevent or lessen some common problems women face.
Take some time to think about what you need to be proactive about your