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Pelvic Floor: Exercises That May Help to Strengthen and Prepare for Birth

Pelvic Floor: Exercises That May Help to Strengthen and Prepare for Birth

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I had some pelvic floor problems after both of my daughters’ births. Each time postpartum, I had to see a physical therapist to correct my problem. This time, I am trying to do things differently.

It is a best practice to see a physical therapist before and after giving birth in order to prevent pelvic floor problems. What I am sharing about here is my personal experience, so you may or may not find a benefit to what I share. It is my recommendation that you see a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor area if you are having problems or anticipate problems. Personally, I think it is a good idea to visit a physical therapist at least once before and after birth. You may need to have more visits than that. However, I think once before and after is a good starting point and may help prevent problems.

I was active and exercised during all of my pregnancies. That being said, there are some exercises that target the pelvic floor in order to strengthen it. The exercises that were given to me were targeted for postpartum. Therefore, some exercises would not be appropriate during pregnancy. Here are some exercises targeted for the pelvic floor specifically during pregnancy.

I tend to have SI joint problems on my lower right side in and out of pregnancy. What I feel is not exactly pain, but discomfort. I am pleased to report that after doing specific exercises consistently, the discomfort has disappeared.

The “bird dog” (reach out opposite arm and leg) exercise was given to me for stability. This one is fine while pregnant or postpartum. The exercise did not help with my SI joint pain, but it is good to practice anyway. The quadruped hip sweep is another exercise given to me and helps with strength and stability. Bridges (marching) were also assigned to me, but they should not be performed after 19 weeks in pregnancy. Clamshell and sidelying hip abduction exercises were also assigned to me. I recently picked these exercises up and did them consistently every night while putting my girls to bed. The good news is that my SI joint pain has completely disappeared! 

90/90 heel tap exercises were assigned to me postpartum as well. However, I am not sure if they would be okay to do after 19 weeks pregnant as you need to lie on your back. Donkey kicks were another exercise given to me. I think all of these are beneficial. However, I would always recommend that you see a physical therapist yourself to determine the appropriate exercises targeted for your needs. Cat/cow was also given to me to do and alternate back and forth. This definitely helped alleviate back pain I had. It is safe during pregnancy. I was given the instructions to alternate between child’s pose and upward dog. However, that is not good to do with a large belly. It is more appropriate to do postpartum. Squats are another great exercise during and after pregnancy. I have been adding these more consistently into my daily routine. Other instructions I was given was to always tighten my abdominal wall and to tighten my butt.

Lastly, transverse abdominis activation is very important to do during and after pregnancy to strengthen the pelvic floor. This exercise can be applied to your general posture and to other physical therapy exercises. 

If you are feeling pain in your pelvic floor area, please see a physical therapist as soon as possible! With my first child, I went for several months without seeing one because I thought the pain was normal! I thought it may be due to breastfeeding, but I shared at a La Leche League meeting and several people recommended that I see a physical therapist because they knew it was not normal. I am so thankful for their recommendation. It is my hope that my experience will help others prevent this happening to them. Please let me know in the comments if you know of other helpful pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy!

Pelvic Floor: Exercises That May Help to Strengthen and Prepare for Birth

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