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Pelvic Floor FUNCTION and STRENGTH... we know we need it, but how do we achieve it?

Our MUMS AND BUBS (pre and postnatal fitness) class covers this and more.. it's so much more than "just doing your kegels!"

To do effective kegel exercises we need to know we are using the right muscles, practice good technique and ideally learn how to breathe freely while maintaining connection.

To achieve a strong, FUNCTIONING pelvic floor we need to:

1. Do Pelvic Floor exercises regularly!

It is important to practice our pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy as the pelvic floor 'sling' of muscles and ligaments supports our growing womb, as well as our bladder and bowel, and also helps push our baby out during labour.

Pregnancy and childbirth stretch and weaken the pelvic floor. They are the greatest risk factors for developing urinary leakage or prolapse. One in three women will experience pelvic floor dysfunction following childbirth.

It is becoming common knowledge that Pelvic Floor exercises are highly effective in treating or even curing pelvic floor dysfunctions such as incontinence. Women who do REGULAR pelvic floor exercises are less likely to experience incontinence a year after delivery.

Remember, in an ideal world we would do them during pregnancy and again as soon as possible after birth, but IT IS NEVER TOO LATE to start!

2. Use the right muscles (make sure other muscles aren't helping out)

You might have heard that a good way to identify the muscles for a Kegel is to stop 'mid-stream'. While this can initially be helpful to know you've got the right muscles, it is really important to NOT MAKE A HABIT of this as it can actually lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder (which increases the risk of UTIs).

Keep your butt, thigh and ab muscles relaxed throughout.

3. Do our exercises with good technique - including making sure we are not holding our breath.

We go over this in more depth in our pre and postnatal classes including visualisation cues. Because these muscles are hidden from view, it is common to feel unsure if you are doing them correctly. If your muscles are weak this movement may be small or harder to feel.

It is just as important to feel your muscles relax in between each kegel.

4. Seek help or guidance if we are unsure, or if we are experiencing any pain, discomfort or dysfunction.

If you are having trouble feeling the connection during Pelvic Floor exercises (or any Pelvic Floor issues at all!) please don't be embarrassed to speak up! It can be a really confusing topic and it may be you need a little more guidance, whether it's from myself or a pelvic floor physiotherapist, we are all here to help :)

We need to be aware that pre and postnatal fitness can have a significant impact on our pelvic floor, it will either help to strengthen the body or if done incorrectly, or too soon postpartum, it can actually cause or exacerbate symptoms. Having a trainer that is truly knowledgable in this area is so important. I can't stress enough that there is no need to be qualified in pre and postnatal fitness as a personal trainer (or group fitness instructor) here in NZ and I consider this very concerning for our community.

"I see postpartum women who have complications that could have been prevented or minimised with the right information, such as diastasis recti (exaggerated ab separation) which often leads to pelvic floor dysfunction and or lower back pain, significantly effecting their quality of life. Some of these women have not done any exercise, perhaps for fear of doing the wrong thing or lack of knowledge of the benefits, and unfortunately some have been doing incorrect exercise. Despite their best intentions, this has actually caused problems or made their symptoms worse." Lisa

Halswell - Tuesday 10.30am-11.15am, Te Hapua Halswell Centre.

Rangiora - Wednesday 10.45am-11.30am, 355 High St.

Lincoln - Thursday 9.15am-10am, 126 East Belt.

Papanui - Thursday 10.45am-11.30am, 460 Papanui Rd.

Upper Riccarton - Saturday 12pm-12.45pm, Library.

Lisa is a Certified Pre and Postnatal Coach (GGS), registered 'Pelvic Floor Safe Fitness

Professional' (Incontinence NZ 2018), Qualified PT and Group Fitness Instructor with over ten years experience, and a busy mum who can relate!

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