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If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. A physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and afterbirth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.
Well, hello there! Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast. Today’s episode is short and sweet. And it’s a solo episode where I will run you through three things that you can be doing to help you prepare your pelvic floor muscles for birth and recovery.
So firstly, we’ll chat about what the pelvic floor muscles are, then we’ll dive into three things you might want to consider in the lead up to birth. But as always, the aim of this podcast and everything I do is to help empower you with information to help you feel more confident in your motherhood journey. So I am well aware that many women firstly, might not have even heard about the pelvic floor area. And if that’s you, then that’s totally okay. And it’s actually really common. And hopefully, by the end of this podcast, you will have more of an understanding and do scroll back because I have also done other episodes on pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy, and that sort of thing.
So secondly, I know some women might not want to do what I’m going to talk about, or perhaps don’t have any time to fit anything extra into their schedule or too busy. And your to-do list as it stands is already really long. And if that is you, too, then that’s, okay. So when I talk about today, take what resonates with you, and let everything else wash over you. And I say this a bit like everything we talk about inside FitNest Mama with my members in terms of preparing for birth, you know, we talked through perineal massage, I like to liken it to a toolkit.
So during labour, you won’t necessarily know what sort of tool you might need. But if it’s in the toolkit, then you can call upon it, if or when you need it. So it’s there and available as a resource for you if you want, but you might not use any of the tools in your toolkit, but at least they’re there for you.
So the reason I share this story is because I remember I just had my baby. And I had my first baby. So quite a few years ago now. And I was on the way home from hospital, my husband was driving and I was sitting next to my newborn baby in the backseat. And I’m a bit embarrassed to actually even admit this. But we had to stop at Woolworths on the way home from the hospital. Because we didn’t have enough nappies. Like how ridiculous is that? But anyway, so we stopped at Woolworths, and my husband went into the shop to get the newborn nappies. And I stayed in the car with my baby, and she was lying there peacefully. She’s sleeping. She was calm. And I know I would have had all the hormonal changes happening my body, but I burst into tears. It was crazy. It was surreal, like just sitting there of silence. Me and my baby. And you know, for some reason, don’t ask me why. But I decided to do my first pelvic floor lift.
So I tried to lift my pelvic floor muscles. And I couldn’t lift them for the life of me. I didn’t even know where they were. It’s like that muscle. That nerve muscle connection, that brain muscle connection either totally gone. That freaked me out. So as a bit of a backstory during my first pregnancy, my second was a whole different story. But during my first pregnancy, I had relatively breezed through it. I hadn’t had any aches or pains. I’d been beat up in healthy. I’ve been doing lots of walks. I had been working in a Pilates studio been doing lots of different Pilates classes, you know, thinking his whole pregnancy geek is easy. Now, as I say during my second pregnancy, it was a totally different story. And that’s for another day. You might have heard about my experience with pelvic girdle pain, but I had gone into my first birth, feeling strong, feeling quite active. I felt I had a good baseline knowledge of pelvic floor and I sort of made the assumption that my pelvic floor would be fine. I hadn’t given it much attention. And so when I was sitting in the car with my newborn baby and I tried to lift my pelvic floor, and I felt nothing, not only did I not feel a lift my pelvic floor, I didn’t even know how to lift my pelvic floor. It was a totally bizarre sensation, I won’t forget. So as the days went by, I did improve and things improved big time. And I went and had a pelvic floor assessment about the six-week mark. But the reason I’m sharing this is because I don’t think I’ve ever coincide. It’s always a lovely thing, right? And there’s no point in cursing ourselves for doing the wrong thing, so to speak. Like we don’t know what we don’t know. And I guess that’s the benefit of having podcasts these days is that we, anyway, I’m digressing.
So the reason I’m sharing this podcast today is because I think there’s since having my first baby, I’ve gone on to do pelvic floor at university like I’ve done postgraduate training in pelvic floor rehab as physiotherapists. So my knowledge has expanded considerably. And this is why I want to share three things that you might want to consider again, maybe not, that’s fine. But three things, I think it would be great to consider if this is for you, to help prepare your pelvic floor for birth and beyond, so that you don’t make the mistake that I did is in terms of sort of ignoring it, you know, out of sight, out of mind, no issues, don’t worry about it, assume you’re going to just, everything’s going to come back after having a baby. So instead of making a mistake I did, let’s talk about those three things for you, just so that you’re more prepared. And I am a huge believer of the power of being proactive, versus being reactive. And you know, being proactive, that means we can identify any issues early, we can nip them in the bud, we can get on to some treatment options earlier if need be like this is the whole reason I developed my program, FitNest Mama, it’s because I would see women in the clinic would come and see me time and time again, there’s two different types of women, generally speaking, there’s those that are coming to see me with issues or concerns. And that’s great, they are seeking help. So whether or not that’s aches and pains, pelvic floor concerns, leaking, prolapse, all the rest, whatever has happened to them has already happened to them. And then they come and see me for help, which is great. And then there’s another group of women that come and see me at the clinic. And this is generally women who come and see me and say I just want to have an assessment, see where I’m at and see what I can be doing moving forward. So they’re being proactive. So perhaps they’re pregnant, and they want to come in for a pelvic floor assessment, or perhaps they’ve had their baby and they’re coming in for a six-week postnatal check. And they’re coming to see me in the clinic, the number of times I would see women who were coming in as a result of issues, so reactively. And they would say to me, I wish I had known about this sooner, or I wish I’d done this sooner. Like I’ve seen the power that proactive treatment, proactive knowledge, like how that knowledge can be so empowering. And this is why I developed FitNest Mama, this is why I created it. Because I saw within myself in my own experience, but also all the women that I treat.
So let’s not keep talking. I said this was going to be a short episode. So what are three things to consider when it comes to your pelvic floor to help your pelvic floor with birth and recovery?
Alright. So first thing to consider is having pelvic floor awareness, having that prior knowledge. So what I mean by this is what is your pelvic floor? What is it responsible for? And are there any issues at the moment that perhaps we could get on to before you even have your baby in the first place, or get onto as soon as possible if you’ve already had your baby, so let’s run through this quickly. your pelvic floor muscles are the floor of the pelvis its forms the base and forms the sling of the pelvis. So these muscles surround all your openings. So you have your urethra at the front, your vagina in the middle and then your anus at the back. And the pelvic floor muscles have a few different functions but the main ones to help you maintain continence. So what I mean by that is they help you to prevent yourself leaking urine, feces or wind involuntarily so put it’s simply, the help to keep you dry when you sneeze or cough or laugh those sorts of things. Secondly, pelvic floor can help support your organs. And this is to help safeguard you against pelvic organ prolapse so that can be noted as a vaginal bulge heaviness, vagina lump that pelvic heaviness, dragging that sort of sensation. So I have got a bit of a pelvic floor checklist, a pelvic floor health checklist that you can head to, it’s www.fitnestmama.com/checklist. It’s a free checklist. It’s really simple. It’s yes0no questions that will take you literally two minutes to answer. Basically, if you answer yes to any of those questions, I would encourage you to go and see your local women’s health physio. But I should just say even if you don’t answer any yes, if you guess if you’ve got any questions or concerns, I’d never hesitate always going to pelvic floor physio. But particularly if you answer yes, and you’ve got concerns.
Okay, so we’ve talked about what they are and what they’re responsible for. So they’re really to help keep you dry to help safeguard you against prolapse. So that just to put this in context, this is so that you feel confident when you’re jumping on the trampoline with the kids. This is so that you feel confident running across the road, if you need to without fear of leaking, so that you can be with your friends and have a good old belly laugh and not be worried about leaking. So the pelvic floor awareness, first and foremost is amazing. I wish they would teach this stuff in high school.
Okay, second thing to consider, your pelvic floor exercises. So in really simple terms, we’re talking about both strengthening exercises and everything that comes with pelvic floor muscle training. So quick lifts, long holds strength, endurance, that sort of thing, but also relaxation. So during pregnancy, it’s important to have nice strong muscles, but also muscles that can relax, we don’t want to just be exercising, you know, like any muscle of the body, there’s times when we’re upright, we’re walking, we’re running our muscles more active. And then there’s times where we relax, we’re sitting on the couch watching TV, and we should have less muscle tension in our muscles. Same thing with the pelvic floor. So this is where it does become very individualized. So the best thing you can do is have a pelvic floor assessment to really know what your personalized pelvic floor muscle training program is. But if you don’t have access to a pelvic floor physio, this is something I also teach inside FitNest Mama. So I talk you through all the different, you know, the quick lift, the long holds the relaxation, all those different elements of the pelvic floor. And I also teach you how to self-assess a pelvic floor. Because I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea or not everyone wants to go and have an internal vaginal examination, or perhaps you can’t because you live too far away, or there’s no pelvic floor physio close to you. So I would always, first and foremost, encourage that individualized assessment. But that’s where an online program might be a benefit, if that works for you.
So then the third thing to consider is perineal massage. So if you’re pregnant, this is something that has been found to potentially reduce your risk of third and fourth degree perineal tears and episiotomy, as well as reducing the chance of ongoing postnatal, postpartum perineal pain. So I think perineal massage is one thing where there is some research to show its benefits. And this is something that’s generally done at 36 weeks postpartum, generally only done a couple of times a week for five minutes or so. And again, it’s not for everyone. So if you’re not sure, please do check with your health care provider just to make sure you don’t have any medical complications. And this is something I also teach inside FitNest Mama, I’d encourage you not to Google it. Because when I’ve looked at it on Google, I can’t even get my head around how they would do perineal massage. And personally, I like to call this perineal preparation, because you might not want to massage, you might actually not want to pop your thumb or your finger inside your vagina and apply a stretch to the area. So if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I hope that doesn’t freak you out. But what I’m just trying to describe is that it’s not all about the message. I personally the way I teach it, we talk through that relaxation techniques. We talk through what we can do when we feel a stretch in that area. So what we’re trying to mimic here really is the crowning of the baby’s head. And what generally like what do you naturally do if you’ve got a headache, or you’re stressed and anxious, what would happen to your head, neck and shoulder muscles? They’d probably tense up. And the same thing can happen in the pelvis if you’re experiencing discomfort, or with the baby’s head crowning or, you know, that ring of fire that you hear about your body’s natural tendency might be to tense up and sort of resist that sensation. So your pelvic floor muscles might zip up and in. But we really were wanting that lovely opening and that relaxation of the pelvic floor. So we were wanting the gates to open so to speak so that the baby’s head can come through. And that’s where I think it’s not just about perineal massage, but there’s perineal preparation and what are some other things we can do to prepare that perineum. And this is where inside FitNest Mama I do teach. We discuss pushing techniques. We discuss perineal massage, we talk about active birth techniques, relaxation techniques. So the benefit of perineal massage is that there’s research to show that it might reduce your risk of third and fourth degree perineal tears and episiotomy, and postpartum perineal pain. So we’re not saying if you do perineal massage, you won’t have any of those issues. But statistically, it’s helping to reduce your risk.
So hopefully that makes sense. So the three things we talked about, firstly, pelvic floor awareness, so head to fitnestmama.com/checklist. If you would like a free checklist that you can complete really quickly just to give you a bit of a basic awareness of common pelvic health concerns. Secondly, I highly recommend all pregnant women do pelvic floor muscle exercises, which includes strengthening and relaxation. The strengthening and the pelvic floor exercises are thought to help with your postnatal recovery. And then the pelvic floor relaxation is thought to help with birth. And then the perineal massage, thirdly, the perineal massage is thought to help reduce your risk of perineal tears and episiotomy, and ongoing perineal pain.
So that’s three quick things for you to consider. If you do need help stepping you along those things and talking you through step by step those things and working on them together, then come and join us inside FitNest Mama. It’s F-I-T-N-E-S-Tmama.com. And there’s either monthly program if you’re quite far along in your pregnancy journey, you might just want a monthly program to sort of try it out no obligation to continue. Or you might want to join up for six monthly if let’s say you’re 36 weeks pregnant, you might join up for the six monthly because that will take you through all the childbirth preparation information. And then you can get on to your postnatal exercises to help you recovering and there’s a 12 week return to running program too. So no matter what stage of pregnancy and postpartum you are, the FitNest Mama program takes you through pregnancy and after birth. And there’s an amazing community inside FitNest Mama 2 with other mums going through exactly the same thing as you. And in this current climate with COVID as it is, homebased workouts are where it’s at, in my opinion like from the safety and comfort of your home. So that’s it ladies come and send me a message on Instagram at @fitnestmama if you found this podcast episode helpful. Thank you for joining me and I look forward to you joining me next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.
Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me, @fitnestmama, so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time! Remember, an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember, our disclaimer, materials, and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I’ll see you soon!