Giving birth is a transformative experience, and while it can be one of the most joyous moments of a woman's life, it can also put a lot of stress on the body. One area that is particularly affected is the pelvic floor, regardless of whether you’ve had a vaginal or surgical birth. In this blog post, we'll discuss how birthing immediately affects the pelvic floor, how to support if you experienced tearing or an episiotomy, why it's essential to rest the pelvic floor after birth, and how to slowly reintroduce pressure management for the pelvic muscles post-delivery.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum, and stabilize the pelvis. During delivery, the pelvic floor muscles are put under a lot of strain, which can cause them to weaken or even tear. It is important to note that weak pelvic floor muscles do not necessarily mean overstretched or “loose” muscles. Tight or overactive pelvic floor muscles that cannot relax are also a sign of weakness. These interruptions in function can lead to issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain with intimacy.
If you experienced tearing or an episiotomy during birth, it's important to take extra care when supporting your pelvic floor.
Rest is paramount, to allow the traumatized tissues time to heal. In the beginning, focus on managing the discomfort by taking sitz baths, using witch hazel pads or herbal perineal spray, and making pad popsicles. Another way to support your pelvic floor is by using a pelvic floor support device, such as a perineal ice pack or a donut-shaped pillow. These can help reduce swelling and discomfort, which can, in turn, help speed up the healing process.
Once your tissues have healed and any stitches have dissolved, begin practicing scar tissue massage regularly. This will not only reduce discomfort and speed up the healing process but also reduce the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction later on.
Lastly, despite the advice passed down to many of us, Kegels are often not your best friend here. Instead, practice diaphragmatic breathing to help the pelvic floor and diaphragm co-regulate and manage intra-abdominal pressure.
After giving birth, it is crucial to rest your pelvic floor muscles. This means avoiding any activities that put pressure on the area, such as lifting heavy objects, doing strenuous exercise, or having sex. Resting your pelvic floor muscles is important because it gives them time to heal and recover from the stress of delivery. Taking some time each day to elevate your feet can be a simple yet powerful way to promote healing for your pelvic floor. You can also lay on your back with a pillow or two underneath to position your hips upward to help support the healing process.
Once you've given your pelvic floor muscles time to rest,recover, and prepare, you can slowly start reintroducing pressure management exercises. This can include activities like walking, gentle dynamic stretching, climbing stairs, and low-impact exercise. It's important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of the exercises over time. You should also continue doing diaphragmatic breathing regularly to help strengthen and support your pelvic floor muscles.
Supporting your pelvic floor after giving birth is crucial for your long-term health and well-being. By taking the time to rest your pelvic floor muscles, doing breathing exercises regularly, and slowly reintroducing pressure management exercises, you can help reduce the risk of long-term symptoms and pelvic floor issues. Curious about what’s best for your individual needs? Book a free 15-minute consult with our Chief Experience Officer and head of programming!
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