Pregnancy and the pelvic floor

The pelvic floor muscles act like a sling supporting all the pelvic organs including the bladder, uterus and lower part of the bowel. They surround the anus and urethra and vagina, providing additional control to urinary and stool release. During pregnancy and childbirth, the joints and ligaments of the pelvis become lax with the presence of the hormone relaxin and the pelvic floor muscles become stretched as the baby increases in weight within the uterus and during the delivery of the baby. This can result in weakness of the pelvic floor muscles and there can also be scarring of these muscles due to tearing and the resultant episitomy given during childbirth.
Problems with your pelvic floor muscles are not uncommon during pregnancy and after childbirth. The most common are:

  • Urinary stress incontinence – where the control of the pelvic floor muscles is reduced due to weakness. This can result in the embarrassing problem of leaking or wetting yourself, particularly when laughing, sneezing or coughing. 
  • A dull ache or pain or a dragging feeling in the pelvis, low back or in the buttocks which may also be related to muscular weakness or scarring of the pelvic floor muscles – most often when the person is tired in the evening.
  • Pain or displeasure during sexual intercourse – which can, again, be related to weakness or scarring of the same muscles

You can test to see if your pelvic floor function is adequate by gently jumping up and down and coughing at the same time with your legs hip distance apart without leaking urine.

Osteopathic treatment can really help relieve imbalances in the muscles of the back and pelvis and restrictions in the pelvic joints (including the sacroiliac joints and the pubic symphysis) which you may be experiencing during or after pregnancy. Advice is also given on exercises which you can do to strengthen the pelvic and core muscles as appropriate – time to buy that all important Swiss ball!

In the meantime, have a look at the pelvic floor exercises shown in this You Tube video.

Blog Categories