Beat Disease and Keep Fighting Fit
About Me
Beat Disease and Keep Fighting Fit

Hi there! Welcome to my blog. My name is Debbie and I am a housewife from Alice Springs, Australia. I love the life I have here with my wonderful husband and our four kids. It all started about a year ago when I realised that I couldn't read the label on a jar of food I was trying to open. I asked my husband if there was a problem with the way the label had been printed but he said he could read it just fine. He booked me an appointment at Vision2000Kota and they carried out some test to rule out any serious problems. Thankfully, I just needed to start wearing glasses. I hope you enjoy my health and medical blog.

Beat Disease and Keep Fighting Fit

Life After Birth: Tackling Pelvic Floor Weakness After Giving Birth

Regina Barnett

It pretty much goes without saying that giving birth to a child is very hard work, and the incredible strain your body is put through during the process of childbirth can take its toll in a number of ways. In particular, the immense strain placed upon your pelvic floor muscles by contractions and cramping can have some debilitating side effects.However, the damage dealt to your pelvic floor muscles during childbirth is very rarely permanent, and with the help of specialised post-partum healthcare you can recover strength and control over your pelvic floor muscles remarkably quickly.

Where are the pelvic floor muscles, and what are they for?

The pelvic floor consists of a strong, thick 'hammock' of muscles and ligaments that extends from the front of your pelvis to the tip of your spine at the bottom of your back. In this position it provides excellent support to the bladder, bowels and uterus, and is largely responsible for control over urination and defecation.

However, pregnancy places rather more strain on the pelvic floor than it is used to, especially when the baby has almost reached its full size and can weight several pounds. This extra weight can cause the supporting pelvic floor to become overly-stretched and damaged, causing tears in muscle and ligament tissue that undermine the pelvic floor's strength and rigidity. Once you have given birth the extra weight is lifted, but pelvic floor weakness can potentially persist for a long time after childbirth without treatment.

What are the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor?

The primary symptom of a weakened pelvic floor is difficulty with urination; this may manifest itself as an inability to start urinating easily, or as intermittent incontinence which is often worsened by sneezing, coughing or laughing. This loss of urination controls is caused by the pelvic sphincter muscles that control urine flow suffering damage during pregnancy. 

Weakness in the pelvic floor can also have other symptoms. You may find sex less satisfying or pleasurable, and that your vagina becomes less sensitive. In more severe cases, problems with defecation are also possible, and extreme cases of pelvic floor damage can even lead to prolapsing. 

How can you strengthen your pelvic floor after giving birth?

Depending on the level of post-partum care you choose to receive, you may be referred to a pelvic floor specialist by your nurses or midwife; if not, you should consult a gynaecologist as soon as possible to report your symptoms and receive medical advice. Your gynaecologist will ensure that your problems are caused by simple muscle weakness rather than a more serious muscle tear or other disorder before recommending treatment. It is vitally important not to begin treatments without medical approval, as working your pelvic muscles too soon after childbirth can permanently damage the weakened tissues.

Once your pelvic floor is ready for the recovery process to begin, you will generally be guided through a series of pelvic floor exercises which will restore strength to the band of muscles over time. These exercises can be conducted alone, or under the supervision of a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor weakness (many of these specialists accept bulk-billing, a particular boon with all the expenses of a new baby to deal with). You may also receive other treatments designed to deal with the more immediate problems of pelvic floor weakness, such as medications to help you control your bladder and bowels.