If you were to search our Facebook posts you would probably see the words “pelvic floor” come up about 100 million times. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but we talk about it A LOT. Pelvic floor health is one the most essential and yet often overlooked part of our body’s ability to move efficiently and pain free. Why do I care about your pelvic floor so much?
Because I know too many moms who suffer from chronic low back pain.
Because I am tired of seeing “moms peeing their pants is normal haha” memes (and don’t even get me started on pee pads…..)
Because I know a lot of women who are having painful sex but are too embarrassed to talk about it.
Because I’ve seen the aftermath of high impact exercises performed during pregnancy, and it’s not pretty.
Because I’ve met women who have been suffering from pelvic organ prolapse for 15 years or more that have resigned themselves to just living in discomfort and pain forever.
Because the pelvic floor…..your pelvic floor…..is really, really freakin’ important.
Pause for a moment. If this is your first time learning about the pelvic floor, then it would be neglectful of me not to talk about what it is. If you already know, you can skip this part. If you’re not familiar with it or want to learn more, read on:
Pelvic Floor – What it Is
When people use the term “pelvic floor” what they are generally referring to are the pelvic floor muscles (although the pelvic floor as a whole contains bones and organs as well). The pelvic floor muscles lie between the pubic bone in the front and the tailbone at the back, and form a sling.
The muscles of the pelvic floor function to support the pelvic organs (such as the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, small bowel and rectum), assists in urinary and fecal continence, aids in sexual performance, stabilizes connective joints (like the very important sacroiliac joint, or SI joint), and acts as a venous and lymphatic pump for the pelvis.
So, in layman terms, the pelvic floor muscles keep your pelvic organs where they’re supposed to be, they keep you from peeing or pooping when you don’t want to, they help you orgasm, they aid in stabilizing your hips and back and helps circulate blood to your pelvic organs.
So, again, really, really freakin’ important, right?
Why It’s So Important
Julie Wiebe, pelvic floor physical therapist extraordinaire, describes it in the best way I’ve found. I’ll summarize for you what she says:
She likens the pelvis as being the foundation of a house. Sometimes problems with the foundation of the house are really obvious like a crack in the foundation or maybe flooding. But, sometimes, the problem is a little more far removed.
The example Julie Wiebe uses is a leaky window in the attic. The window is leaking and so you go upstairs and try to paint and patch it, but when that doesn’t work the moisture seeps into the wallpaper. And then you have mold in your walls and you end up having to remove part of that wall. And pretty soon a pesky window becomes a whole home renovation project. But, in reality, if you would have taken a look at the foundation first, you may have prevented or fixed that leaky window without all of those extra steps.
So, while there are more obvious signs of a pelvic floor problem like stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, there are other things that pop up like unexplained low back pain, shoulder pain and even jaw pain.
I’m not necessarily suggesting that every single source of pain is a result of a pelvic floor dysfunction, but with all of its responsibilities and its affect on our body, especially if other treatment modalities haven’t been working, isn’t it worth looking into?
Knowledge is Power
You know that NBC public service announcement jingle “The More You Know?” I feel the same way about your pelvic floor health. When it comes to mamas’ quality of life being interfered with, I care. I care a lot. And that’s why we talk so much about the pelvic floor, how to connect your pelvic floor to your breath and how to incorporate your pelvic floor into your everyday movements so that it, your core, your diaphragm and your multifidus can function the way that they’re supposed to. So that you don’t have to just live with those problems that I mentioned earlier. And it’s my opinion that every mama and mama-to-be should have this information, because you are the ones who have the potential for the most problems.
What to Do
When I was pregnant with Jack I was constantly told that I should expect to pee my pants after childbirth. That leaking when I sneeze, cough, jump, workout, etc. was normal. I refused to believe that this was true. And because of some intentional training and education, I know for a fact that incontinence and other pelvic floor dysfunctions are preventable and they are treatable. Peeing your pants after you have a baby is common, but it’s not normal.
Here are some things that you can do to help ensure or improve your pelvic floor health:
First of all, I highly recommend if you are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant or have had a baby that you see a pelvic floor physical therapist, especially if you have experienced any of the symptoms that I’ve mentioned throughout this article. Your pelvic floor PT can help you figure out if you have any issues and how to address them. If you’re not sure where to start, use this locator tool to find a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area.
Second, train in the best possible way for your body. One of the first things I did when I got pregnant is I hired a trainer who specializes in pre and postnatal training (I think every good coach should have a coach). How you exercise during and after pregnancy matters, and not to scare you, but exercising in ways that are inappropriate for you changing body can actually be the cause of or contribute to an existing pelvic floor dysfunction and can make diastasis recti worse (to read more about DR, check out this blog). Pre and postnatal exercise is our passion. So, if you want to take the guesswork out of the equation, check out our in-person and online options here.
Third is learn as much as you can about pelvic floor health! Do some research. Read some of Julie Wiebe’s blogs. Check out Diane Lee. And if you’re local to our area, attend one of our pelvic floor workshops! (Follow our Facebook page to be notified of any upcoming events.)
And last, but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! So often women are too embarrassed to talk about the symptoms that they are experiencing. Let’s normalize talking about the vagina, vulva, sex, leaking and whatever else our bodies do so that we can access important information and live our lives with the strength and confidence that we deserve!
P.S. If you want more workout tips, recipe ideas, mindset advice and parenting stories be sure to join our free weekly newsletter list! This is where we give out our best information. As a thank you for signing up we’ll send you a free exercise guide for the best core exercises that you can do during pregnancy and after. Not on the list yet? Join now and get your free guide here.