Air guitar and the pelvic floor: why all Mums should read this.
The pelvic floor. The pelvic what now?
Not something you’d even heard of before the midwife or NCT lady mentioned it I’d wager. And even if you had, did you honestly know what it did or how you were supposed to exercise it?
No, my friends. The only time you really get the gist of its job is when it’s completely shot. How unfair is that? When you can’t hold on for a wee for even 2 minutes, or your mate makes you laugh too much, or you join the littlies for a bounce on their friend’s new trampoline and suddenly… well you know. We’ve been there too.
After a lot of drinking and over enthusiastic dancing involving Bon Jovi, air guitars and jumping off chairs at a wedding, my pelvic floor decided to remind me just how delicate it still was – 17 months after baby number two. Oopsy. Bad me not doing my exercises for ages. (Poor me for having had a pretty traumatic first birth which messed it all up in the first place actually!)
Anyhoo. I’ve dusted off some tips from my brilliant Women’s Health Physio lady and thought I’d share. I just remembered that she once told me she and the consultant had gone to a Pelvic Floor Conference and had really enjoyed it – that’s how she rolled! Can’t think of anything worse myself.
– Find your pelvic floor muscle. You haven’t lost it – it’s there somewhere… Sounds silly but if you haven’t engaged it for a while, you’ve probably forgotten where it is. Just as you’re sitting or lying reading this, try and pull in and up. Not hard, just to identify it. It’s really hard at first – reminding us all why we need to do the following…
– The exercises. I was told to exercise both back and front at the same time, drawing them up together. So starting with the back – contract the muscles as if you were holding in some wind, then draw in the front as if you were stopping mid wee too. But rather than just ‘hold… release… repeat’ – squeeze in the back, squeeze in the front, then keep squeezing but think of drawing up up up – my Physio said like going up an escalator, which I found helpful to picture. Even when you think there’s no more, do a final squeeze as there’s always something left. Then release – as controlled as you can. And before you start the next one, check you’re totally relaxed and not already pre-empting the next exercise to get the full workout. Even if this all takes a while and you can only manage 5 at first, that’s great.
(If you’re holding your breath or pulling in your tummy muscles you’re not quite doing it properly – the aim is to identify the pelvic floor and exercise that only.)
– It’s so easy to forget to do the exercises (let’s face it, it’s even less appealing than the gym), try and allocate a regular time and place you do them. i.e. on the commute, watching Go Jetters, not doing the washing, on Facebook in bed etc.
– Once you get stronger, have a go at doing the exercise while walking – it’s so hard but you can build up quickly once you get the hang of it. You might want to do it alone though as my face goes really weird when I’m trying it and I have to stop talking. Bit embarrassing in company.
And that’s it. So crack on and get strengthening it up. This child-bearing lark does have its ongoing dramas doesn’t it? But who knows when your next opportunity to dick about to Bon Jovi will be, so you better be prepared…
Featured image credit: Shutterstock / Francesco Carta fotografo