Many people get told different things in regards to whether or not they should indeed be doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy!
Some MYTHS you may have heard about pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy include:
“It can cause the pelvic floor muscles to become tight”
“It can make giving birth vaginally difficult”
“It can increase your risk of tears when giving birth”
No wonder women are so confused about whether they should be doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy – right? We so commonly hear these myths being passed around and misinforming women!
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are definitely recommended by Women’s Health Physiotherapist, and health professionals during pregnancy and after birth.
What does the evidence say:
Reducing urinary incontinence:
Correct Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT) during pregnancy reduces the risk of urinary incontinence during late pregnancy by 62% and at 3-6 month post partum by 29% (Woodley et al, 2017)
Reducing tearing during vaginal delivery:
Women who underwent pelvic floor muscle training program had:
- 31% reduced risk of needing an episitomy (surgical cut to assist delivery)
- Higher likelihood of having an intact pelvic floor
- Reduced risk of 3rd and 4th degree muscle tears
- Reduced post delivery pain (requiring less pain relief medication as well)
In summary – Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy is completely safe and is important to:
- Decrease damage to the muscles by the strain of carrying a growing baby
- Decrease the risk of injury during vaginal delivery
- Reduce risk of incontinence during and after giving birth
- Speed up recovery after giving birth
- Return to exercise safely after giving birth
Remember – Correctly performing these exercises is key! Performing pelvic floor exercises incorrectly is often more harmful – get a proper pelvic floor assessment by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to ensure you are contracting and relaxing properly.
So YES ladies you should be doing your pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy to reap the above benefits!