Throughout pregnancy women learn more about their pelvis, its capabilities, and all the changes it undergoes in order to accommodate pregnancy and facilitate birth. After birth many new moms also become familiar with the pelvic floor and the role it plays in pelvic stability. The pelvic floor consists of muscles and ligaments, that act a bit like a hammock surrounding and controlling nearby organs, which in women are the bladder, rectum, and uterus. After birth the pelvic floor may be weak and that can cause leaking of urine especially during times of increased abdominal pressure, such as a cough, laugh, or sneeze. A weak pelvic floor can also be responsible for painful intercourse or the inability to completely control bowel movements.
At the end of pregnancy and during birth a hormone called Relaxin is released in order to help loosen pelvic tissues and joints to help the baby pass through. The pelvic floor muscles get stretched from the pressure of the baby and pushing during childbirth. After the birth the muscles of the pelvic floor have undergone tremendous change and are not able to quickly rebound back to their pre-birth strength and function. As a result when there is pressure in the bladder or abdomen, urine may leak out. Unwanted spillage may also result from structures called the anal and urethral sphincters. Sphincters are circular muscles that surround urethra and anal canal, they are controlled voluntarily however after birth they may become more lax.
Not looking forward to being a leaky faucet? There is a solution. You can strengthen your pelvic floor with exercises. Just like other muscles in your body that you can build up with exercise, the pelvic floor is no exception. One popular exercise is called a Kegel which can be done anywhere, and without anyone knowing that you are doing it. You do it by tightening the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine. Completing two sets of 10 Kegels twice daily; by holding each for one second and working up to five seconds has been very successful at building pelvic floor strength and reducing symptoms for many women. When performing a Kegel it is important to make sure that you are contracting vaginal muscles NOT buttock or abdominal muscles. Strengthening the core with exercises like glute bridges, wall squats, dead bug and jumping jacks can also help in diminishing symptoms of leaky bladder, painful intercourse and difficulty controlling bowel movements.