Podcast Episode #40

How Do I Strengthen my Pelvic Floor Muscles: Kath Baquie from FitNest Mama

Today I want to give a super quick tip for a question I’m commonly asked: “How do I strengthen my pelvic floor?” In this episode, I will run through what the pelvic floor is and why we need to be aware of it. Then I’ll take you through some common ways to strengthen it.

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How Do I Strengthen my Pelvic Floor Muscles

Transcription

INTRODUCTION

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.

KATH BAQUIE

Well, hi there, welcome to Episode 40 of the FitNest Mama Podcast. So this is a super quick tip for a question that I do really commonly get asked. So that’s “How Do I Strengthen My Pelvic Floor?” So in this episode, I will quickly run through what the pelvic floor is, and why we should be aware of it. And then I will take you through the common ways to strengthen your pelvic floor. So it’s a super quick episode, which will hopefully give you some really good pointers on this really important topic.

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But before I jump into this episode, there is a new free quiz that is available to you all. So take this quick quiz to find out how ready your pelvic floor is for pregnancy and beyond. It’s fun, it’s quick, and it will give you some helpful information to help guide you through your stage of pelvic floor readiness. Simply head to https://fitnestmama.com/quiz.

Okay, so what type of pelvic floor exercises should I be doing? Pelvic floor exercises, they’re really tricky, because it can be hard to know what is happening. We can’t see these muscles, these muscles are internal to the body. So not only can we not see these muscles, but because of that it is hard to know if we’re actually doing the right thing. So the pelvic floor is a super important group of muscles that sit at the base of the pelvis, the floor of the pelvis. And these muscles help to support the bladder, the bow and the uterus.

So during pregnancy, they also support the growing baby and they have a big role in continence. So that’s the preventing and maintaining of urine so preventing the leakage of urine feces or wind. They also have a big role in pelvic organ prolapse. So preventing prolapse and also in sexual function. We know how beneficial pelvic floor exercises can be during pregnancy and after birth. So let’s try and simplify what we should actually be doing.

So step number one, I’m going to run you through a few pelvic floor cues. And these cues might help you to understand how to lift your pelvic floor. And it’s good to remember we want to make sure we have a good quality pelvic floor lift, and also a release. So relaxation. And if you’re not sure what’s happening down there, when you lift your pelvic floor muscles, then please do go and see your local pelvic floor physio. Or if you’re in Melbourne, send me a DM on Instagram @fitnestmama, because you can book an appointment for a pelvic floor assessment with myself.

Okay, so here are some things you can try to see if it can help your squeeze and lift. My first favorite cue is to imagine you’re stopping yourself doing a fart. So imagine you’re in a lift, and you need to pass wind. So obviously, if you’re with other people, you want to prevent that. So let’s zip up around the back passage to help prevent passing wind. So that’s my number one favorite tip of all time, is actually focusing on that back passage.

The second shoe that I think is really commonly thought of, is to stop the flow of urine. So imagine you’re going to the toilet to empty your bladder, let’s draw in those muscles zip up those muscles to stop the flow of urine midstream. Now, this isn’t something we want to regularly do on the toilet because you don’t want to cause any issues with urinary retention, or bladder infections or anything like that. So this is one of those things that can be helpful to imagine you’re stopping yourself passing urine or if you are going to do it just very occasionally once in a blue moon to check if you’re doing it correctly, but it’s not something to do on a regular basis.

The third cue that I really like is to imagine a clock face. So think of your vagina as a clock, your pubic bone. So at the front is 12 o’clock, your tailbone at the back is six o’clock, the wall on the left of the vagina is three o’clock. And then on the right is nine o’clock. So once you’re imagining that clock face, let’s visualize pulling the 12 and six together. So front and back, drawing it up and in. And then let’s gather the three o’clock and nine o’clock together.

So you might, let’s imagine drawing just the 12, and six together. And then let’s imagine all four points together 12, three, six, and nine o’clock, so pull up towards the middle of the clock.

My next cue, which is also a favorite, is to imagine you have a jelly bean or an m&m, resting at the vaginal opening. And you want to use those vaginal muscles to suck in the Jelly Bean upwards and inwards towards the belly button. So once you’ve got some of those cues, and once you feel you’ve got the right action, we want to make sure we’re doing them with good quality lifts. So we want to avoid holding your breath, you want to avoid squeezing your leg muscles or lifting up the eyebrows. The common ones I often see is people lifting about holding their breath and squeezing their glutes or their external leg muscles. So it’s an internal muscle action. And they should be your own little secrets and no one around you hopefully can tell that you’re doing your pelvic floor.

So we’ve talked about queues. Now let’s talk about strengthening. Step number two is let’s do some quick lifts. And these, I think, are the fun ones. So let’s imagine you’re zipping it up, and they relax. Let’s lift it up, release, zipper up, release, lift, release, and so on. So we’re aiming for one second lifts, and then a full release afterwards. So quickly, if it’s perfect for coordination, getting those fast muscle fibers working, or the fast twitch muscle fibers working, and we want to see how many you can do in a row and build up from there. And remember, always quality over quantity. So let’s go through that one more time.

Let’s do 10 quick lifts in a row, zipping it up, release, lift, release, lift, release, zip, release, lift, release, we’ve got five, relax for release, three, release to release last one, and fully let it go.

Brilliant.

We’ve talked about queues, we’ve talked about quick lifts. The next one on the list, essence strength holds. So these are your 100% lifts, your strong ones. These are the good quality strong lifts, which generally you’re aiming to hold for about 10 seconds, then you release and you will aim for about 10 repetitions. But again, this is a general guide only and the best thing you can do is to get an individual assessment to see where you’re at. And if you’re postpartum, trust me, you won’t be able to lift for 10 seconds, you might only be able to lift for one or two seconds, and you’ll need to gradually build it up from there. I’m going to take you through strength holds right now.

So let’s first of all fully relax your pelvic floor so that your tummy muscles drop and flop. Okay, let’s zip up, drop it up, keep breathing, keep zipping it up, keep holding, keep lifting for another 6, 5, 4, keep lifting, 3, 2, or 1 and then fully release and let it go. Let it drop and flop. Brilliant. Let’s do another strength hold. Off we go, zip it up, drop it in, keep lifting, keep holding, keep breathing. Amazing. For 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then fully release. So there you have a string told.

Now the next step is adding a long hold. So these are the 50% lift, the endurance lifts, so 50% of your maximum hold. So this means that you’re not lifting your muscles as strong as you possibly can. But you’re just slipping up half way and holding for as long as possible. So in general, before getting back to running postpartum, we aim to be able to do a good 62nd hold again. But we do need to gradually build to this level. So I’m not going to take you through a whole 62nd hold.

But let’s go for a 22nd hold right now. At 50% Max, so zip it up halfway. Keep breathing, keep going. So you’re lifting halfway and trying to stay focused. Try to keep lifting, try to keep breathing brilliant and other 11, 10, 9, 8, stay with me if you can 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then fully relax at the end.

And brilliant work, ladies! We’ve just talked through cues. We’ve talked through quick lifts, strength poles and long holds.

So a few quick reminders at the end, super important for some women, you might not actually need to strengthen your muscles, you might need to really focus on the relaxation side of things. So that’s another reason why it’s great to go and have your pelvic floor assist. And when you’re doing your strength holds and all your exercises, it’s really important you do get a good release and relaxation at the end as well.

The second tip is to try to do your pelvic floor in different positions. So if they’re quite weak, you might need to start lying down or sitting, but then building it up to standing in different positions as well.

The third quick tip is to squeeze and lift your pelvic floor before you cough, or sneeze, while lifting things. If you’ve got a new baby, before you lift them out of the cot, for example, you might do a quick squeeze and lift before you lift out your baby.

Okay, tip number four, we are all-time-poor. You know, I assume if you’re listening to this, you’re pregnant, or you’re a mum, and we’re busy, I get it. So let’s try to incorporate pelvic floor in fact, every day workouts if we can and this is something we do inside FitNest Mama. 

Every single workout includes pelvic floor during the workouts but also we do a set at the end of the workout and we talk through the quality lifts, the relaxation, the release, all those different aspects.

Okay, and then tip number five. If in doubt, check it out. And I think I’ve said this a few times, but booking with your local pelvic floor physio or if you are based in Melbourne, contact me on Instagram at FitNest Mama if you want to talk about a one on one assessment.

So if you would like support and motivation to do your pelvic floor exercises, along with having access to pregnancy or postnatal workouts, then come and check out my online program Titnest Mama, you can head to https://fitnestmama.com/ and there’s a Free Seven Day Trial.

So that’s it ladies, short and sweet. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Don’t forget to check out the new free quiz that is up on my website at https://fitnestmama.com/quiz to see where your pelvic floor is. And if you’re pregnant, it’s perfect for you to do this quiz. Okay, that’s it, ladies. Have a great day everyone send me a DM on Instagram @fitnestmama. I’d love to hear from you. Have a great day and I’ll see you 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 https://www.instagram.com/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 these podcasts are intended as general information only, and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I’ll see you soon!

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