By Guest Blogger and Fitness Trainer Carly Steggles (@buggybootcamp)
Women who have had a baby are three times more likely to wet themselves due to pelvic floor issues than those who haven’t - so, first, second or thrice-time Mums and future Mums, read on!
As a post-natal group fitness trainer, the last thing that I want is for women to stop exercising because of pelvic floor issues and the embarrassment that these issues may cause. If you leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, jump, lift or run, it is nothing to be ashamed of – you just have weak pelvic floor muscles because they were stretched when you carried and gave birth to your beautiful bub.
The pelvic floor muscles form the base of the core and can be thought of as a ‘hammock’ running from your tailbone to your pubic bone. They provide support for the bladder, womb and bowels.
If you experience leaking, pressure or discomfort, don’t ignore it – the problem will not go away on its own (and your risk of pelvic organ prolapse is higher if left untreated and no-one wants stuff falling out, right?!) but can be solved with a little bit of effort and perseverance. Like any muscle, the pelvic floor muscles can be trained to make them stronger.
Locate your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing and drawing inwards your muscles to stop the flow of urine when you are on the loo. Got it? These are your pelvic floor muscles. Make sure you use the trick on the loo just to locate the correct muscles, not as an actual pelvic floor exercise, as this can cause infection if repeated excessively.
Now that you have found them, exercise them. Train your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing and drawing upwards your muscles around your front and back passage – like you're trying to stop anything at all getting out! Hold this strong and tight for a count of eight, or as long as you can manage. Let go, relax and repeat. Increase the repetitions as you get stronger and work up to 10 times. Do three sets of up to 10 squeezes per day.
You can train your pelvic floor muscles anytime, anyplace – no one will know what that slight eyebrow lift means! Just remember that fewer good squeezes are better than lots of half-hearted ones, don’t hold your breath and try not to squeeze your bum or your thighs whilst you are performing the exercise.
Make pelvic floor exercises part of your daily routine (even if you don’t have an issue now, you may as you get older or have more children). Do them while you are in the shower, feeding your bub, on the bus or after every time you go to the toilet. Get into the habit of always lifting and holding your pelvic floor muscles before you cough, sneeze or lift.
If you have pelvic floor concerns, there is no need to stop exercising entirely - just adapt the programme so that it is pelvic floor safe. Power walk rather than run, remove the bounce or jump from exercises by choosing a lower intensity option, only lunge or squat as deep as is comfortable, use lighter weights and breathe out with effort as you push, pull or lift.
And keep on squeezing ladies – put your pelvic floor first!
If you are on the Northern Beaches in Sydney and want to try out Buggy Bootcamp, they have a free trial session and flexible memberships that allow you to rock up whenever it suits you and bub - head to www.buggybootcamp.com.au