Found out you’re pregnant, hyperventilated, surprised your loved ones, celebrated, overthought, googled cute decorations and mum or baby clothes? Next stage might be thinking about your body and how will it change. It is perfectly normal as are all changes. I can tell you one thing. Your priorities about muscles will (and should) change.
Maybe you even never heard of the pelvic floor. Most mums-to-be start to notice changes to the pelvic floor when it is a wee (literally) bit too late. However, leakage can be avoided.
As soon as you find out you are pregnant, it is time to start paying attention to this hidden part of your body. So, let’s start from the ground up: Where the heck are pelvic floor muscles? They give you control over bladder and bowel, support the womb and they are located in your pelvis (duh, they are pelvic muscles), specifically between your legs and run from your pubic bone at the front, to the base of your spine at the back.
And how does the pelvic floor change in pregnancy?
So now when you know you have them, it is time to train them!
1. Contracting (aka Kegels or pelvic floor exercises)
Sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles in your vagina and bottom 10-15 times in a row. When you master this, try holding every squeeze for a few seconds. Then try tightening and releasing the muscles of your vagina (imagine peeing and trying to stop, start, stop and start the flow). It is kinda fun, trust me. You will feel the results after a few weeks. But don’t stop there. How about your stomach? Strengthening abdominal muscles will ease backache which will occur as your baby grows and can improve circulation. Try exercising on all fours and contracting your stomach muscles, holding for a few seconds and releasing. Do not hollow your back, lock elbows and remember, only do what is comfy and not hurting. Safety first.
Breathing is important during all exercises. But I want to tell you more about diaphragmatic breathing (or belly pump). A diaphragm is a respiratory muscle. It draws air inside and so pumps much-needed oxygen. You are breathing for two now. The unborn baby can feel potential stress – this type of breathing helps that too. And proper breathing will prepare you for breathing and effective pushing when the big day comes. Make sure when you do your kegel exercises, breathe in and out, don’t hold your breath.
Talking about your tummy, diet is important as well. Drink a lot of water, stock your fridge with a variety of fruit, veggies and lean protein. Lentils, green veggies, and freshwater fish are beneficial for both mum and baby. Whole grains are also wholesome! They are a source of magnesium, iron, vitamin B and selenium. Basically, balance nutrients, eat regularly and if needed or advised by your doctor, take prenatal vitamins to fill nutritional gaps.
Feeling like you need a bit of motivation or extra help? Cheat with technology! There are plenty of things out there to help you. Install a Kegel Trainer app, Pregnancy Workout Adviser app or Noisli app to help you fall asleep. Want to involve the dad? There are apps for dads too and they sport some funny names. To mention just two: check out Daddy up or Who’s Your Daddy? app. Are you more into the real deal and putting the phone down? You can try personal care gadgets, just browse Amazon or eBay. For example with a pelvic floor trainer Aniball you can begin from 37 weeks of pregnancy, 10-15 min per day. The good thing is you can keep using it after giving birth.
I hope this helps but remember, the goal is to be happy and healthy, relaxed mother, not crossing all points from this list. Listen to your body and psyche and if you find a thing that suits you, do it on a regular basis. It pays off.