Why do pelvic floor exercise while pregnant?
I’d like to thank Miriam for her honesty and willingness to share this story of why it is very important to understand and do your pelvic floor exercises while pregnant. Mirium presented as a strong and healthy women when she attended pregnancy aqua classes in 2015. Following the birth of her first child she let me know all had not gone to plan during the birth and that she had pelvic floor issues. It was with delight that Mirium returned to pregnancy aqua with her second pregnancy. It was an emotional reunion – some how I got all the credit for her recovery! Over to Mirian – I’ll let her fill you in on the details and why as a pregnant woman you never know what the birth is going to be like, but doing your pelvic floor exercises is really, really important – as Miriam discovered.
Miriam’s example shows us the importance – even for healthy, strong women.
“I met Jo for the first time in 2015. I was pregnant with my first baby.
Because I love water, I thought ‘pregnancy aqua’ would be the perfect exercise for me and I started when I was about 24 weeks. Little did I know that not only the exercise in the water would be very beneficial, but even more importantly, it was the pelvic floor exercise, before each class that was actually my saviour. Without it, I’d be fully incontinent now and for the rest of my life.
I am not. Thanks to Jo!
My pregnancy was fairly easy. I had a few issues here and there, nothing worth mentioning. I was a very fit and healthy 38 year old pregnant woman.
I had heard about the pelvic floor before, but NEVER was I made aware of the damage a birth can do to it or about how to do pelvic floor exercises.
In all antenatal classes and brochures you get they say ”Do your pelvic floor exercise it’s important…” and things like “1 in 3 Women will experience some sort of incontinence after having a baby”. Yeah, you think. That won’t be me though…..
So, Jo explained how to engage your pelvic floor muscles and honestly at first I had no clue what she was talking about.
“It’s a lift, NOT a squeeze”. Hmmmm ok.
Anyway, with several techniques visualsations, practice, snakes (lolly snakes are in fact the perfect pelvic floor training tool) ️ and weekly repetitions, I understood what I was meant to do. First only a couple of times, then improving as I was doing it.
Did I do it everyday? No! Maybe a few times per week if I was good. And every week at pregnancy aqua.
I had this little mantra of Jo’s voice in my head “Close off through the back, middle and front. Lift up. Hold. Keep breathing. Aaaaand release. And again….”
Fast forward to the birth of my son. I won’t go into detail. Just that it was very traumatic for everyone involved and went very, very wrong causing a lot of damage to my muscle tissue and nerves.
My obstetrician said the next day, that we need to check if I can go to the toilet to do a wee, after the catheter was removed.
I had been lying the entire time since giving birth and didn’t really think anything of it. I had tryed to lift my pelvic floor, but I couldn’t feel it and thought, it’s probably because it’s all a bit numb still.
Until I decided that I should probably get up and try to stand. So I did and guess what. I wet myself instantly. Completely. And the weirdest bit about that was, that I had absolutely no idea that my bladder had been full. I had no sensation, no urge, no feelings whatsoever.
I was shocked!
This went on. And not just urine was an issue, no, I couldn’t feel my bowels either. I had no control or sensation of my bladder and bowel.
I got put into contact with physiotherapists straight away and saw her a few days after giving birth in hospital.
At that stage I was panicking and very stressed about the whole situation. The toilet was only a few steps from my bed and I hardly ever made it there without wetting myself.
The physio asked me, if I had done any pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy. Yes, I did, but I can’t feel anything, so I can’t do any now.
She examined me and asked me to do one of my exercises.
So I did with my little mantra in my head
“Close off through the back, middle and front. Lift up. Hold. Aaaaand release”.
I could not feel it. Nothing.
Then to my surprise the physio said “Miriam, you are doing it! I know you can’t feel what you are doing, but you are doing it perfectly. So whatever you’ve been doing, your brain and muscles still know and you are doing it!!!” My body had been trained, so it worked even without knowing.
Fast forward 3 years later, lots and lots of physio therapy and daily pelvic floor exercises I am pregnant again and about to have my second child. And of course I’m back at pregnancy aqua!
I’m ok now. I have been working very hard to get here, but the reason I’m NOT incontinenet is Jo and her training me to how lift my pelvic floor in the first place. Only because I had learned before hand how to, I could avoid the prognosis of being incontinent. Its not 100% to what it was before pregnancy, and it probably never will.
I still use that mantra to do my exercises. Daily.
My body would not be able to go through a vaginal birth again. This was made very clear from the get go. This time, it will be a c section. And that’s fine.
And if I was only allowed one piece of advice to give to women, this would be it: learn how to do pelvic floor exercises and do it!
Thank you, Jo!