New mums. How many times have you been told to do your pelvic floor exercises? It was really drummed into me during the last months of pregnancy and again after birth. Every time I saw a midwife or health visitor they wanted to know I was doing my pelvic floor exercises.
They are asking for a good reason – these muscles have been weakened during birth and getting them back to the way they were is so important for maintaining bladder control and preventing prolapse. The problem can be that your pelvic floor muscles are tucked away out of sight, so you can’t see when you’re tensing them. It can also be hard to differentiate them from the muscles in your bottom, so you can end up tensing the wrong muscles.
This is where yoga can help! There are a couple of poses where it’s much easier to identify your pelvic floor muscles, which then makes tensing them more straightforward.
The first one is on all fours. Make sure your wrists are under your shoulders and knees are under your hips. Then allow your belly to hang down to the floor and look in front of you. Having your pelvis in this position should help you to only tense your pelvic floor muscles. Give it a go, and see if you can feel them work.
The second position is downward dog. It’s a great pose and has so many benefits: your legs, shoulders and the whole of your back get a good stretch. And it’s a fab pose to help you do your pelvic floor exercises.
Both these poses can be useful to all mamas, not just those who are expecting or have just had a new baby. Working on your pelvic floor muscles is great thing to do at any time.
If you haven’t done downward dog before, then bending your legs will really help. You’ll get all the benefits of the pose without such an intense stretch through your legs.
Once you get the hang of isolating your pelvic floor muscles, you’ll be able to tense them in any position you like – I’d recommend trying the all fours and downward dog positions first, as I found working my pelvic floor much easier to do in these poses than sitting in a chair or lying down.
Physiotherapists recommend you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles together ten times fairly rapidly and then up to ten times, holding for longer. This should be done daily, although a lot of what you can manage will depend on how long ago you had your baby.