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Don’t ignore the pelvic floor!

Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work it!

did you know one in three women has an incontinence problem after giving birth?I’m constantly surprised at the lack of focus on the pelvic floor in many yoga and exercise classes.

But this hammock-like muscle that supports your growing baby and internal organs works with our core muscles to basically keep our bits secure and in place, helps control our bladder and bowel function and even enhances our enjoyment between the sheets.

Yet despite all these major benefits, so many of us continue to ignore the pelvic floor.

We all – men and women – need to be aware of our pelvic floor muscle, but during the pregnancy and post-partum stage it’s especially important.

So how do we tone this muscle?

For a basic pelvic floor contraction, sit up comfortably with a straight spine, ensure your shoulders are relaxed, chin slightly drawn in to the chest. Allow the breath to flow freely. Now take a breath IN and on your EXHALE gently draw up the pelvic floor muscle – as if you are lightly picking up a tissue with the muscle. Then gently release on the INHALE. Repeat about 10-15 times.

Make sure you aren’t tensing any other muscles as you practice and your bum should be relaxed – not clenched buttocks!
When you are standing or lifting, sneezing or laughing always try to “switch on” the pelvic floor muscle to about 20 per cent so it is active, but remember to allow the breath to flow freely.

Don’t worry if you can’t feel much – in pregnancy there’s a lot of weight bearing down so it can be difficult. But remember after you have had your baby then this is a great exercise you can do while feeding! Working the pelvic floor in this way will help bring blood flow to the perineal tissues.

And remember to keep it up. Have a daily reminder in your schedule – perhaps do 20 reps every time you feed or when you are waiting at traffic lights – or in my case waiting for kids which is how I seem to spend half my life!!

Hope this helps – if you want more advice then come along to one of my yoga classes – post-natal and general on a Tuesday evening and pregnancy yoga on Saturday mornings. Or email me. Also check out the Continence Foundation of Australia for lots more information on this important subject.