Incontinence and the Pelvic Floor Post Baby

pelvic floor chart

I was inspired to write about incontinence one day as there was a cool chill in the air that had me sneezing away!  In that moment, I recalled a bit of uncontrollable leakage of urine in previous days every time I sneezed and coughed post babies (I am a mother of two, who are 20 months apart).

 

Although I was the only one who knew it was happening, I remember feeling a bit embarrassed that my urine got away from me!! It was obvious that my pelvic floor muscles had weakened, or more accurately, no longer supported my urethral sphincter as it had previously.

I know I am not alone in my experiences of urinary stress incontinence (too much intra-abdominal pressure on the pelvic floor). Kegels can be the answer for you, but if you’re experiencing pain when performing kegels or not utilizing all of the muscles involved in the pelvic floor, this may not be your answer.

Let’s clarify. Kegels are an exercise for the pelvic floor muscles- this includes 3 muscular layers as the parts ‘down there’ are all so closely connected and interwoven. The pelvic floor muscles intersect at the perineum (the area of skin between the anus and the vagina). This means thatkegels involve more than the vaginal walls. It also involves the sphincters of the anus and the urethra. So if performingkegels, one must be mindfulto work from the intersection- utilizing the muscles surrounding the anus, vagina, AND urethra.

Many of us may already be aware that we can perform kegels virtually anywhere, anytime. I prefer elevator kegels that lift higher with each ‘floor’ then reversely, lower/release with each floor, particularly in a low squat position. If this position is troublesome for your knees, one option is to roll up a towel or small blanket and place behind the kneecaps. If your heels disengage from the floor, feel free to fold up a yoga mat, blanket, or towel to place under your heels. Remember to keep the feet no wider than a 45 degree angle.

Other simple exercises to re-engage the pelvic floor are pelvic breathing and chair squats with a block.

Pelvic breathing is truly all in the name. I prefer this exercise seated upright in either a cross legged position or while sitting on a physio (yoga) ball. Think of breathing into the bowl of your pelvis, feeling a gentle expansion or downward press at the root and also noticing a slight space between the sitz bones on the inhale.

Lastly, the chair squats with a block can be seen in the photos below.  Some cues for this exercise are to stand with your feet hip distance apart, gently squeeze the block between your upper thighs to engage the adductor muscles which in turn helps engage the transverse abdominals and even pelvic floor. Neck long, shoulder blades hugging the back, and ribs hugging the front of the body. Remember to breath and keep the spine long and neutral. Arrive in this position and then return to standing with the arms down at your sides. Repeat a few times taking notice of what you feel moving and engaging in your own body.

 

chair squat with block

Chair squat with block

 

chair squat with block side view

Chair squat with block, side view

 

Each of these exercises can be done with 1 minute of time or if you have more to dedicate, then so be it! The more you practice visualizing and intentionally working the pelvic floor, the better you will become. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you’ve just had a baby! Your body has transformed and needs to now re-learn some of what it knew before. It is a process and urinary incontinence will not go away over night. Again, patience and persistence is key. You are not alone! I’ve been there and I’m sure many other postpartum women are right there with you!  For one on one help, feel free to schedule with me HERE.

by Mrs Dancing Moon

Author
Nicole LaCour-Wordlaw, CCP, CSWP Also known as Mrs Dancing Moon, Nicole serves women who are not feeling 100% themselves, not totally grounded nor connected, yet know that there is a higher and better version of themselves that wishes to shine. Using her work in dance, as a birth doula, and sexual wellness practitioner, Nicole helps transform women to live in their fullest expression. www.mrsdancingmoon.com

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