A healthy pelvic floor is fundamental to the well-being of all women throughout their lives, especially during pregnancy . It is important that you know what this anatomical region consists of, what its function is and how to optimize it through physical exercise.
I'm a mother of 4 daughters, so I know how important it is to keep your pelvic floor and core functional after giving birth . Therefore, in this article, I intend to help you be more informed about the topic and give you some tips related to pregnancy.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is composed of a thin layer of muscle fibers and connective tissue, constituting the base of the abdominal cavity , between the pubic symphysis and the sacrum. It is divided into two types of muscular structures:
- Pelvic diaphragm : responsible for supporting the vagina and rectum;
- Urogenital diaphragm : responsible for supporting the organs in the pelvic cavity (bladder, uterus and intestine).
The pelvic floor muscles work in conjunction with the thoracic diaphragm . Since they are interdependent, to maintain their function they must be properly aligned. For this reason, both posture and breathing play a fundamental role in the functionality of the muscles in the pelvic area.
How important is this muscle group?
The pelvic floor is an element of the core , having multiple and important functions in the women's body:
- Supports the contents of the abdominal cavity;
- Maintains control of the sphincters;
- It is responsible for sexual function and pleasure;
- It is an important muscle group for hip stability.
Many women are unaware of how these muscles work. However, mastering conscious activation of the muscles in the pelvic area can be a powerful tool! This is because it allows abdominal wall training to be more effective, which brings many other advantages.
The main cause of dysfunction or ineffectiveness of the pelvic floor is related to the loss of proprioception or lack of knowledge of these structures and their functions.
The voluntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles must be well worked on. To develop your strength, specific training is necessary, which will also increase the degree of knowledge and awareness of different types of contractions.
The pelvic floor before, during and after pregnancy
All stages of pregnancy are unique in a woman's life, from the moment she starts trying to get pregnant to postpartum recovery . During this entire period, there is greater harmony with your body. These are ideal times for women to develop awareness of their pelvic floor, as well as their entire core .
So, be aware of some advice that you should try to follow throughout these 3 phases: before, during and after pregnancy.
Before getting pregnant
- Adopt a correct posture
Many women unconsciously accumulate high tension in their body, especially in the pelvic floor. To get pregnant, it is necessary to eliminate tension points to ensure proper blood circulation in this area.
To improve your posture, you should avoid tucking your buttocks in while standing or sitting. This practice causes shortening and consequent weakening of the muscles .
- Breathe correctly
The topic of breathing is often undervalued, as it is such a natural and automatic act. However, we are not always breathing in the most correct way. The pelvic floor and diaphragm work in concert, so it is important to ensure that breathing patterns are adequate.
During the pregnancy
- Maintain good posture
As your belly grows, it's normal for your posture to change, reducing support . By giving in to the tendency to hunch your lower back and relax your shoulders, you will be preventing your core muscles from working properly. This incorrect position can result in back pain and even urinary incontinence .
Therefore, during pregnancy, you need to strive to maintain the best posture possible. The benefits will be greater activation of the multifidus and transversus abdominis muscles. Furthermore, it will also ensure that the growing belly causes less pressure on the skin, abdominal wall and ligaments.
- Take proper breathing
As pregnancy progresses, breathing becomes different. Stopping breathing using your diaphragm will have an impact on your health and well-being . When you don't breathe deeply, your organs don't function optimally, causing a negative impact on your health.
- Activate the pelvic floor
There are certain actions that favor the strengthening and stabilization of the core muscles. It is important to activate your pelvic floor muscles and exhale through your mouth whenever you lift weights. You should also apply this advice when getting up from a squat or lunge .
On the other hand, you should avoid holding your breath during exertion (apnea). This is because this practice increases pressure in the pelvic area, which can cause pain in the lower back or hip, incontinence, abdominal diastasis or even hemorrhoids.
- Relax and stretch the pelvic area
In the final stage of pregnancy, when the baby is already head down, it is essential to stretch the pelvic floor to prepare for birth . Supported squats are a great way to stretch and relax these muscles. You should breathe through your mouth and nose and visualize your pelvic area slowly stretching and relaxing as you inhale.
In the postpartum
- Prevent urinary incontinence
Regardless of the type of birth, developing urinary incontinence is not a normal condition. During pregnancy, the muscles in the abdominal cavity lose strength and need to be strengthened. Specific exercises must be performed that take into account the body changes resulting from pregnancy. An adequate exercise prescription will gradually mean that you can train without any restrictions.
You don't need to have a lot of free time or follow a demanding plan to get results. You can take care of yourself, your health and your pelvic floor with workouts of 10 to 30 minutes a day . If you do, you will achieve results faster than you can imagine. After starting a training program suited to your goals, you will notice aesthetic, internal and well-being changes.