Time for a Pelvic Floor Change

Postpartum is the time to give your pelvic floor a little TLC.

Pregnancy and childbirth can do a number on your pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor, which stretches from the pubic bone to the tailbone and supports your bladder, uterus and bowel, gives you control over emptying your bladder and bowel and even helps you have orgasms more frequently. But pregnancy, however exciting it may be, stretches and weakens your pelvic floor, leaving you vulnerable to annoying, and sometimes even painful, symptoms, like incontinence and and itching and burning vulva. So do you want to avoid leaking a little pee when you jump or sneeze? If you recently gave birth, now is the time to give a little TLC to your pelvic floor. there’s no better time to bring your pelvic floor back to shape than after giving birth.

Here are five resolutions that will change your postpartum pelvic floor’s life for the better:

1. Moisturize your lady parts. We all know that babies’ sensitive skin needs the protection of moisturizer from time to time. So does yours! Grab something pure like coconut oil or Vitamin E, apply it to your labia before bed a few times a week, and let that sensitive tissue get some beauty rest. (Don’t forget to use moisturizer before sex, too!)

2. Incorporate one stretch into your routine. Yes, I would love to see you incorporating even more, but this is a place to start. Hip openers can release tension in the pelvis and in deep muscles that may contribute to pelvic pain, which can be especially helpful for those of you who sit all day. Rodney Yee demonstrates three different stretches in this three minute video. Incorporate these stretches into your routine: baby’s tummy time can be mom’s hip-opening time!

3. Commit to drinking more water. Finding a water bottle that you love and will be glad to look at will help with this one. Hydration helps keep your skin healthy, your muscles mobile, and your urinary tract happy. (Less water = concentrated pee, which can be irritating for your system.)

4. Eat more fiber. Where does the fiber come in? Getting 25-27 grams of fiber per day will help you pass bowel movements more regularly and more easily, which is hugely important for your pelvic floor. You can even track your fiber intake through the app My Fitness Pal. And this leads us to…

5. Poop better. You can start by propping your legs up. Sound strange? Well, imagine how we were designed to live in nature. Squatting actually allows the angle at the base of your rectum to open up, leading to more complete elimination that doesn’t require straining. Using books, a stool, or a squatty potty will help you do this. We’re raised in a culture in which “girls don’t fart” or “women don’t poop,” which may lead us to do our business quickly instead of, say, luxuriating on the porcelain throne. But the best thing you can do for your pelvic floor is to let those muscles fully relax instead of straining to have a bowel movement. So treat yourself! Grab a book, your iPad, a crossword, and take your time.

Lindsey Vestal

Lindsey Vestal

Lindsey Vestal owns The Functional Pelvis, a private practice specializing in pelvic floor therapy “house calls” for pre- and postnatal women. As an OT, she is a passionate promoter of bridging pelvic floor rehabilitation with lifestyle modifications while addressing the psychological impact that pelvic floor issues have on our everyday lives.

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