Becoming a mother is the most amazing experience, however being pregnant and giving birth has an effect on your body. You may find yourself struggling with back pain, not finding it easy to lose your pregnancy weight and stretch marks.
Something that a lot of women struggle with after birth is incontinence. During pregnancy the weight of your baby puts pressure on your pelvic floor and the hormones released during pregnancy soften your muscles and ligaments. This can cause your pelvic floor muscles to takes strain and stretch. During birth your pelvic floor muscles can get damaged.
The end result of weak pelvic floor muscles is urinary incontinence. If you regularly leak urine or accidentally urinate when you sneeze or cough after having a baby you need to look at ways to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Often doctors recommend surgery to remedy the problem, however there are natural ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles without having to resort to drastic and invasive measures.
The first thing you need to know is that there are some changes that you can make which will have a positive effect without even doing any exercises:
If you are needing an additional reason to quit smoking this is a good one. As a smoker you will be coughing regularly which will be putting additional strain on your pelvic floor muscles.
As with quitting smoking, losing weight comes with many health benefits. Excess weight can weaken your pelvic floor muscles due to the fatty tissue on the bladder. If you lose weight your symptoms will most likely improve, they may even clear up completely.
Cut Down on Caffeine
Caffeine can make incontinence worse as it irritates the bladder. Coffee is the biggest culprit here, so consider switching to decaf coffee or try to stop drinking coffee.
There are many other drinks that contain caffeine including tea, green tea, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and even hot chocolate.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Due to the fact that alcohol is a diuretic you will be needing to urinate more often if you are drinking. If you cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink you may find that your symptoms improve.
Avoid Acidic and Spicy Foods
Foods that are acidic or spicy, such as citrus fruit and curries, can irritate the bladder which can make your symptoms worse.
Drink Lots of Water
Drinking water comes with many benefits. When it comes to incontinence many people think that drinking a lot of water will make the symptoms worse however that is not the case. Not drinking enough water will in fact make your symptoms worse due to your bladder capacity being reduced. Not taking in enough water can also lead to constipation which in turn can make urinary incontinence worse.
Avoid Becoming Constipated
When you are constipated you will strain yourself to go to the toilet, this weakens your pelvic floor muscles further which leads to your symptoms worsening.
As mentioned above drink plenty of water and make sure to get in lots of fibre. Ensure that you are getting in enough exercise. This will help you to avoid becoming constipated.
Exercises To Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles
All of the above tips are great for helping to reduce symptoms and in some cases may even resolve your incontinence, however in most cases you are going to need to actively target those muscles through exercise. If you have done any research into strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you have undoubtedly come across pelvic floor exercises and yes these are great exercises but just like any other area of your body that you need to strengthen it isn’t going to take just one type of exercise.
Check out Suzanne Andrew’s 30 Day Bladder Fix: Pelvic Floor Strengthening DVD which includes a resistant band for a complete guide on how to fix your incontinence problems after having a baby.
These are the most well known and talked about exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. When you do Kegel exercises you contract and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor.
To find the right muscles imagine you are urinating and use the same muscles you would use to stop urinating mid stream.
(Don’t actually do this while urinating as this can cause you to not empty your bladder completely which will worsen your problem)
Once you have figured out the right muscles contract your muscles and hold them right for 3 seconds then relax them for 3 seconds. Complete this set 15 times and try to do it three times a day.
Make sure to not stop breathing while you are doing your exercises and also make sure to only contract your pelvic floor muscles. Don’t tighten your buttocks, thighs or abdomen muscles.
The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it discreetly anywhere. Stuck in traffic? Waiting in line for pay for your groceries? Make that time count!
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Put a ball between your knees and squeeze the ball with your knees while bringing your bottom off the floor. Hold yourself off the floor for a few seconds before lowering yourself back to the floor. Repeat this movement 20 times.
This is a great exercise that will strengthen the right pelvic floor muscles.
The body squat is not quite the same as normal squats and doesn’t involve moving from a standing position and into a squat position over again. You need to hold yourself in a low squat position as shown in the video above holding in your pelvic muscles.