26 Jan Rumour has it……
Have you heard the rumour that doing pelvic floor exercises while you are pregnant will make your delivery more difficult?
It has been brought to my attention that there are people out there that are advocating that you shouldn’t do pelvic floor exercises when you are pregnant, as tightening the pelvic floor muscles right before you are going to push a human through them is counter-productive, and you are better off with a “loose” set of pelvic floor muscles prior to childbirth.
I can actually see the logic in this, but everything I know about muscles makes me want to argue with this logic.
I was taught at university that strengthening a set of muscles before surgery or trauma (for example, a total knee replacement, a broken bone, or pushing a baby through your vagina!), would make them stronger and also more flexible, and would help you to recover faster afterwards.
Given I get asked this question a lot, I was interested to see a research article in the International Urogynecology Journal recently that looked at this exact question.
This is for the pregnant woman sitting at home wondering if doing pelvic floor muscle exercises is going to make her labour worse.
I don’t want to bore the pants off you, so I will just jump straight into it.
12 studies were included in this research, making a total of 2243 women.
This is what they found:
• Pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy significantly shortens the first and second stage of labour for a first time pregnancy.
• Pelvic floor muscles training does not increase the risk of episiotomy, instrumental delivery or perineal laceration.
We know that 1 in 3 women who have a baby will have incontinence.
We know that 50% of women who have a baby will experience pelvic organ prolapse (where your bladder, uterus or bowel descends into and then out of your vagina).
We know that pelvic floor muscle training decreases incontinence and prolapse.
Now we know that pelvic floor muscle training gives you a shorter labour, and no increased risk of birth trauma.
It certainly seems to me that the research advocates pelvic floor muscle training for pregnant women!
Ok mumma, breathe in, breathe out, squeeze and lift!