Our pelvic floors are powerful — as the bottom of our core system, it supports our pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum & small bowel) and provides stability for our core, spine, & pelvis!
During pregnancy the pelvic floor takes on more of a load than it typically does, seeing as there’s a growing baby it needs to support. This is why it’s extra important to keep it functional to avoid injury! There are plenty of things we can do to encourage a pelvic floor that is strong & able to do what we need it to.
As Lindsay McCoy (@bodyreadymethod) would say, we want a “Goldilocks pelvic floor" - not too tight, not too weak, but just right!
Some common lifestyle habits play a role in the wellness of the pelvic floor and bladder, & you might be surprised what makes this list…
✨ Going pee “just in case” - our bladders are creatures of habit! If we head to the toilet frequently, our bladders can begin to signal us that we’ve got to use the bathroom ASAP, even if it’s the tiniest amount. Every 2-3 hours is more of a typical range for bladder emptying habits!
✨ Bras with tight waistbands make it hard for us to breathe deeply & fully expand that breath into our rib cage. Aim for comfortably fitting undergarments like bralettes or wire-free bras!
✨ Sitting for prolonged periods of time (like hours upon hours at a desk job) can have our pelvises used to being tilted back. Our muscles adapt to what we do often. In pregnancy, we want to see balance in the pelvis to encourage a well-aligned baby. Make sure to have lower back support in your chair, get up to walk around or stretch every 30 minutes or so, & swap your chair for an exercise/birth ball when you can!
✨ Sucking in your belly contributes to a mismanagement of pressure in your core system — that’s a fancy way of saying that the pressure has to go somewhere, & that is oftentimes down to the pelvic floor! Relax your tummy & let yourself take a deep breath, your pelvic floor will thank you for it.
✨ Straining to poop can put a lot of unnecessary strain on the pelvic floor. Go when you feel the urge but like bladder habits, don’t force it or try to go "just in case". Use a squatty potty or stool under your feet & try not to spend excessive time on the toilet! If you’re struggling with constipation while pregnant or postpartum, stool softeners & warm drinks may be your bestie for a while.
✨ Clenching your pelvic floor 24/7 isn’t strengthening it — it’s like overworking a muscle that is already flexing, or trying to pull on a rubber band that is already stretched to capacity. There’s a myth that kegels are what every pregnant person needs to do 100x daily, & that couldn’t be further from the truth. Too tight of a pelvic floor is a very real issue that many folks with a uterus can attest to. Give it a break!
Remember that Goldilocks analogy? We want to be able to both tighten & fully relax the pelvic floor, so that it can do things like push out babies!
Adjusting some of these small habits can make a big difference, in any stage of life.