During pregnancy, the female body undergoes a transformational change due to the wonderful hormonal orchestra being played out.
Pregnant and peeing for England! springs to mind.
Many will notice subtle body changes like tender achy breasts, a heightened sense of smell or the nausea and sickness that a lsuffer with.
All of our body systems CHANGE.
Our hearts pump faster and work harder.
Our total body fluid volumes increase dramatically.
Our lung capacity may decrease by 5% as our ribcage widens and we go up a bra size or several!
It may come as no surprise then to hear that our gastrointestinal and renal systems are also affected by growing a teeny, tiny human being.
Due to increases in the hormones oestrogen and progesterone the smooth muscle found in our throats and intestines SLOWS down. This means food is not moved along our guts as quickly as normal and therefore many ladies experience CONSTIPATION early on.
As the woman’s uterus grows, our stomach contents are squished UP which can cause acid reflux or heartburn for many.
Poor digestion equals bad news for our pelvic floor muscles.
Straining to move your bowels or wretching with severe nausea or heartburn leads to increase loads down through your pelvic floor area.
It’s hugely IMPORTANT that all pregnant women keep:
- Eat little and often.
- Avoid lying flat on your back if suffering with reflux.
- Practise pelvic floor exercises with both the contract and relax components.
- Don’t strain to poo.
Our renal system also changes. Our kidneys enlarge and out renal blood flow increase by 75%.
The pressure from our growing uterus down onto our bladder means more trips to the toilet to pee. Hence the term “peeing for England” and this is why you pee so much in pregnancy.
As this picture so beautifully illustrates your bladder (in YELLOW) gets extremely squished and sat on, your uterus (in GREEN) expands dramatically, whilst your intestines (in RED) get squished upwards along with your diaphragm (in WHITE) and your bowel (in BLUE) gets so squished it leaves the picture!
We may also suffer for the first time from involuntary loss of urine known as urine incontinence due to the effects of changing hormones on our pelvic floor ligaments and muscles.
Due to all of the above, ladies are more at risk of urinary tract infections.
Therefore it’s hugely IMPORTANT that all women keep:
- Toilet when you feel the urge to pee.
- Ensure your bladder is fully empty after peeing.
- Practise pelvic floor exercise with both the contract and relax components.
How many times have your been told to do your pelvic floor exercises when pregnant?
How many times has someone spent TIME with you teaching you HOW to do them?
Considering how important your pelvic floor muscles are to prevent incontinence then we need to talk MORE about them,
TEACH more about them,
more visual imagery,
more to help ladies CONNECT, ENGAGE and FEEL their pelvic floors.
If you want to know how exactly to do a pelvic floor exercise read this blog post all about it <<<here>>>.
Pelvic floor exercise’s SHOULD:
Be understood by all women.
Be given priority and time to complete them.
Be practised for life and not just in pregnancy or post birth.
Yes it’s important we can contract and relax them but first of all lets teach women how to FEEL and FIND them.
So many of us are totally DISCONNECTED from them.
Teach. Empower. Transform!
Happy squeezing everyone.
Marie Fell is the founder of The Pilates Physio UK who now lives and works in Luxembourg. She is a qualified physiotherapist with over 12 years NHS experience in a wide array of specialisms and three years experience running her own business. Her passion lies in Posture, Pilates and the Pelvic floor! She is an enthusiastic pelvic health activist and uses her blog to highlight areas of pelvic health that are lacking to others.
She is passionate about improving post natal care for all ladies through education. Her mission is to empower, inspire and educate others to move freely and keep healthy and teaching Pilates with a clinicians hat on allows her the best of both worlds.