Q: I had my baby three months ago and things are finally settling down. My health visitor tells me that I should start doing my pelvic floor exercises now that things are a bit less hectic as they are extremely important. However, I'm not sure I can be bothered! What do they do, and do I really have to do them?
A: Unfortunately, your health visitor is right! The dreaded pelvic floor exercises are indeed very important – and very effective! Your pelvic floor is basically a range of muscles and ligaments that stretch from the pubic bone round to the bottom of your backbone. They hold your bladder, bowel and uterus in place, and also help control their functions.
While you are pregnant, the weight of the baby strains these muscles. Additionally, pregnancy hormones soften and stretch these muscles and they become weaker. Because of this, you may accidentally leak small amounts of urine, especially if you laugh, sneeze or undertake any form of exercise - particularly high impact exercise such as running.
The good news is pelvic floor exercises can strengthen these muscles back up again to prevent this problem from occurring. Because they are so discreet, they can also be done at any time of day, any place and anywhere!
First, you need to understand exactly where these muscles are. The best way to find this out is to sit on the loo and try and stop your flow of urine. These are the pelvic floor muscles.
Now that you know what you are working with, you can begin a regular exercise regime. Start by sitting comfortably, with your legs apart, and squeeze these muscles 10-15 times in a row. Remember to breathe as you do so. You will need to repeat this exercise in sets of 10, five times a day.
As you get stronger, you can begin to hold each squeeze for longer, and you can also add more squeezes into each set. Additionally, once you are adept at doing these exercises, you can do them wherever and whenever, for example while driving, standing in a queue, or sitting at your laptop.
As with any form of exercise, it can takes weeks to show any effect, but rest assured you are laying some excellent groundwork. Keep on testing the strength of the pelvic floor muscles by stopping your urine flow. In time, your perseverance will pay off and you will begin to notice a real difference.
Did pelvic floor exercises work for you, or are you letting nature take its course? Leave a comment below...