As a mum of triplets plus one, I know how much lifting there is in the early days for parents with newborn babies: shuffling babies from room to room, up onto change tables and down into play pens – and don’t even start me on the endless baskets full of washing. It’s back-pain inducing stuff! But for those who also suffered through a pregnancy before the bouncing bundles arrived (I’m looking at you, mums), another problem can also arise, in the form of a weak pelvic floor and bladder leakage.
Yes, let’s talk about this uncomfortable topic! Because statistics by the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) say that 1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby wet themselves, so you definitely aren’t alone if this is happening to you. No need to be embarrassed! It’s a strength problem, and it can definitely be overcome. Here is a great video by CFA that explains why you are wetting yourself, click here to check it out.
So now you know the mechanics of why you want to hold yourself when you sneeze, here are my top three tips to strengthen your pelvic floor and stay dry all day.
1. When lifting up a weight, eg your baby, don’t hold your breath and brace against it. This is effectively pushing down on the pelvic floor by increasing your abdominal pressure and is squeezing your bladder like a lemon. Instead, take a breath before you lift and breathe out for as long as it takes to complete the lift. This will raise your diaphragm, decrease your abdominal pressure and reduce the strain on your bladder.
2. Before you lift anything, you should turn on your core in preparation. There are three steps to this process:
a. Activate your Transverse Abdominus (TA) muscle, by sucking your belly button towards your spine. Pretend that you are doing up the zip on a pair of jeans two sizes too small – you want to concentrate on the lower part of your abs.
b. Lift your pelvic floor, like you are busting to get to the toilet and need to hold in a wee and a fart at the same time. Yes, we’ve all been there.
c. Gently squeeze your bum muscles like you have a $100 note between your cheeks and don’t want to let it drop out. Sounds strange, but actually helps to further activate your abdominal muscles for support and takes the pressure off your lower back. Then take in your preparation breath, hold the contraction and breathe out as you lift as per number 1 above.
3. Use a strong cue to actually do your pelvic strength exercises several times a day! For example, every time you go to the toilet, or have a cup of tea, or change the babies’ nappies, do the following routine. Lift your pelvic floor strong and hard, count to three and release. Try to keep breathing throughout, and repeat three times. You want to build to a six second squeeze, six times in a row, and repeating three times a day at least. Consistency is key, and you will get control back over time. You deserve it!
Post-natal women looking to get into exercise WITHOUT wet knickers can come in for an appointment with me, I am able to help with both your upper and lower body mechanics, any joint or back pain, and have a specific gym program for post-natal clients. Click this button to book now!
And finally, if you get any pelvic pain, or have what you consider to be complex continence issues, speak to your GP or call CFA on 1800 33 00 66.