*Written by Maternity Physiotherapist Sabrina Nieland
Pelvic floor plays a significant role in your daily life, from your route to the bathroom to your sex life. Despite having given birth, many new mums are not fully aware of the importance of the pelvic floor nor know how to engage this muscle. That's why they may feel confused in postpartum classes when doing pelvic floor exercises.
In this article, Maternity Physiotherapist Sabrina Nieland explains how a pelvic floor check-up can benefit first-time mums and how to determine whether you need one.
Does this situation sound familiar?
When you take postpartum classes, pelvic floor exercise is one of the highlights that everyone talks about. There are a lot of different illustrations and instructions to help you practice activating that part of your body, but you're still not sure where to find yours. Perhaps you can feel something down there and still wonder whether you are using the right muscles.
If this sounds similar to you, you're like most women in these classes.
It's normal if you're confused
Before pregnancy, most of us rarely tried doing exercises with our pelvic floor. Therefore, we usually lack a feeling for this crucial area of the body. This fact explains why we can hardly judge whether we are doing the activation correctly or not despite having gone through the labour. In addition, the teachers in postpartum classes can't help us because it is difficult to see and feel the movement from the outside.
The fact is that about 1/3 of all participants in the classes have difficulties controlling their pelvic floor. A weak pelvic floor after pregnancy and birth without proper exercise can lead to long-term complications.
Therefore, the pelvic floor check-up was developed to tackle the issues women experience. A specialised pelvic floor physiotherapist will perform a functional assessment of your pelvic floor during the check-up. This session includes checking whether you are using this part correctly and testing various qualities such as strength and speed.
Having your pelvic floor examined lets you know whether you are engaging the right muscles. In case you find it challenging to locate your pelvic floor, the physiotherapist will help you by using an ultrasound device as biofeedback so that you can feel and see what is happening inside you.
How to know if you need a pelvic floor check-up
The pelvic floor check-up is just right for you if...
- - You are unsure whether you are tensing correctly.
- - You know from your gynaecologist that you need to do pelvic floor training - but you are unsure exactly how and what exercises you should practice.
- - You want to return to your sport activities after pregnancy, and you want to know whether your pelvic floor is ready for it.
- - You experience discomfort during certain everyday activities, such as urine leakage or a feeling of heaviness, and would like to know why.
- - You already have a diagnosis such as incontinence or organ prolapse and would like to know how you can best work your pelvic floor to improve the situation.
- - You still have problems with your abdomen or a rectus diastasis after pregnancy. A trained therapist can also look at the function of the abdominal muscles.
It is essential to know that this functional test is an examination that only specialised physiotherapists can perform. Therefore, this service is not popular in Germany at the moment. And unfortunately, not all physiotherapy clinics can perform pelvic floor check-ups. At www.ag-ggup.de (in Germany), you can search by postcode to see if there is a specialised therapist near you. Remember to ask again if they offer pelvic floor check-ups or only pelvic floor therapy.
If you have questions about the pelvic floor, postpartum period, or any concerns about motherhood, talk to Lola&Lykke's experts! Our expert panel is private, free of charge, and backed by science.
Introducing Lola&Lykke Core Restore Postpartum belly band
Our postpartum belly band has won a Bronze award in the MadeForMums Awards 2022. The band provides the needed support for weakened, unstable core muscles after childbirth, promotes healing, and accelerates recovery. Developed in collaboration with Finnish physiotherapists, the band offers comfortable dual-layer support for your core, hips, and back post-pregnancy, alleviating back pains, pelvic pain and improve posture. Regularly wearing our postpartum support band can help gently realign your abdominal muscles and reduce the appearance of a 'mummy tummy.'
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You can find more details about the band here.