We all know that doing your pelvic floor exercises are important. But doing the technique correctly is vital. Try the following:
- Place one hand above your belly button and the other on one of your upper chest. Breathe normally for three or four breaths. Ensure the abdominal muscles are relaxed.
- If your breathing is relaxed, you should find that the hand on your tummy moves out and in more than the hand on your shoulder moves up and down. If this is not happening, try to stop your shoulders moving and let your tummy rise and fall naturally.
- Gently pull up and in "down below" as you breathe out. When you are learning, don't try to pull up so hard that you have to hold your breath. Start with a gentle contraction until you have managed to co-ordinate your contraction with a breath out.
- Try then to hold a contraction for a few seconds while you continue to breathe in and out as normal.
- You may feel your lower tummy muscles (below the belly button) tightening and moving inward toward the spine. If you are tightening your upper tummy muscles (above your belly button) then you are trying too hard! Go back to the breathing exercise and start again.
- Build up slowly, over time, to a 10 sec hold. It is important to be able to feel the muscles release after each contraction.
Aim to be able to do 10 in a row, 3 times a day. This may take some time so "little and often" may need to prevail in the early days. Relax, for as many seconds as you can hold, between contractions.
When you start out exercising your pelvic floor muscles, you may find that you hold your breath as you squeeze. You'll need to learn to breathe normally as you do the exercises.
It's also important to learn to activate your pelvic floor muscles in a functional way-ie. In a protective action prior to coughing, sneezing or lifting, or in fact prior to any activity even laughing which increases pressure on the bladder.
If you find any of this difficult, or if you would like to know for sure that you're doing it right to prevent problems in the future, assistance from a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor dysfunction will help. Make a Mothers Day Maintenance appointment now for a 30 minute consultation to assess your pelvic floor strength and function.