Podcast Episode #86

When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy?

Friday Floor [Pelvic Floor Basics]: Kath Baquie from FitNest Mama

I am super excited to chat to you about this common question today: When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy?

It is a question a lot of women DM me on Instagram @fitnestmama to ask.

It is a topic we discuss a lot inside the FitNest Mama Membership, as around 50% of the women who join FitNest Mama are concerned about their pelvic floor, or want to make sure they are doing everything they can to help during this stage of motherhood.

So we are going to discuss 4 main things.

WHAT are pelvic floor muscles?

WHY are pelvic floor exercises so important during pregnancy?

WHEN can I start doing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy?

HOW do I do pelvic floor exercises?

We also dive into these common questions:

When should you start doing pelvic exercises in pregnancy?
Are pelvic floor exercises safe during early pregnancy?
How often should you do pelvic floor exercises when pregnant?
Is it too late to do pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy?

And, we also have a super exciting announcement about a new pelvic #fridayfloor series on the FitNest Mama Podcast!

Episode Links

Preparing for birth Pelvic health checklist
Free 7 Day Trial Pregnancy Workouts
Free 7 Day Trial Postnatal Workouts

FitNest Mama Website

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When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy?


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So, in today’s episode, we’re going to discuss four main things. We’re going to discuss what are the pelvic floor? Why they’re so important? When should I be doing them? So, when during pregnancy or when after birth should we start and how often? And then we’re also going to discuss how to do the pelvic floor and do stick around because it’s related to this. Because I do have an exciting announcement, which I hope is going to make your life and your to do list or you know the brain drain that we all have that little bit easier. So, it’s a super exciting announcement. So do stick around. I’ll let you know at the end of this episode.

Before we dive into this all important question, When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy? I do just want to invite you to come and join us inside FitNest Mama. Reclaiming your pelvic floor core and strength safely is the most effective way to care for your body confidently during and after pregnancy. And all of this is available with FitNest Mama. If you have found, you’re not exercising as much as you’d like to during pregnancy. Perhaps you’re busy or you’ve lost motivation, or you’re not quite sure how to be looking after your body. Perhaps you’ve got pelvic girdle pain, abdominal muscle separation, or you’re just not sure about the best exercises for you. Or you’d like to be getting back into running after birth and you want the best kick start-up possible. Then FitNest Mama is for you. So join us for these convenient short, easy workouts that you can do from the comfort of your home. Whilst your bubba’s sleeps, your toddler runs around or at the end of a long day at work, head to fitnestmama.com and the link is in the show notes.

Alright. Let’s get into this episode.

Okay, ladies, what is the pelvic floor? We’re starting off with what we’re going to discuss why we need to do them, when we need to start doing them and how to do them. So, I’m going to make this super short and as succinct as possible. What are the pelvic floor muscles? To put it simply a pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that are at the floor of your pelvis, the base of your pelvis, they wrap around all the openings. So, your urethra where the week comes out the vagina, and then the anus at the back. They help to close off the openings and they help to support your organs. They’re those muscles at the base or the floor, the pelvis, hence the name pelvic floor. They are internal to the body. And this is why sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re doing your exercises correctly. It’s not like you’re doing a bicep curl at the gym. We can’t see if you’re doing your pelvic floor exercises or your own little secret. So that is what they are essentially why do we need to know about them? Why do we need to know about our pelvic floor because unfortunately the statistics according to the Continence Foundation of Australia, one in two women will have some type of prolapse after giving birth and one in three women will experience incontinence at some stage. So, these steps are real one in two of us or one in three of us are experiencing these issues. So, they’re responsible for leaking. So that’s leaking of urine, but also feces, and also the wind. So being able to hold in wind, urine, feces, voluntarily, and they’re responsible for helping to support the organs. So, safeguarding us against pelvic organ prolapse, and that might be felt as a vaginal bulge of vaginal lump, that pelvic heaviness sensation or pelvic dragging sensation. Sometimes it might be as subtle as not feeling like emptying your bladder properly, or it might be felt like a tampon is stuck inside your vagina.

So, there are a variety of pelvic organ prolapse symptoms, and they’re just a few of them. Pelvic floor muscles also help us with our bowel habits. So, if we’ve got constipation, that’s a bit of a warning sign. chronic constipation may be there might be a pelvic floor element in it and it needs to be investigated. If you’ve got sexual pain, so pain with sexual or with intercourse, that’s a bit of a warning sign again, perhaps maybe your pelvic floor is implicated and that might be worth assessing. Or perhaps you’ve had chronic pelvic pain. So, whether or not it’s endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, like there’s a lot of chronic pain syndromes or reasons why we might have on long term pain around the pelvis. And that might also be a bit of a warning sign that perhaps you might want to get your pelvic floor assessed. So, ladies, if you do want to have access to a free pelvic health checklist, I do have one available, I’ll put the link in the show notes. But it’s at fitnestmama.com/checklist. So that’s a pelvic health checklist. Super quick, super easy. Yes, no questions. If you answer yes to any of those questions, I do highly recommend you get assessed. So go and see a pelvic floor physio who can do an internal assessment, if that’s appropriate for you, or talk, talk you through the options available for you. Right, we talked about what we talked about why let’s talk about when to do the pelvic floor exercises.

So, there’s a I believe there’s a Chinese proverb, I heard it from someone else, I haven’t actually read it. But I believe there’s a proverb that goes something along the lines of, “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. And the second-best time to plant a tree is now.” Same thing with the pelvic floor. This is something I wish all adolescent children learned about. So, girls who are reaching puberty and boys, you know, basic anatomy, anatomy of our pelvis, where all the openings, what is the pelvic floor? And you know, even how do we do we properly how do we how do we do poop properly. Those basic functions of the pelvis. Yeah, I really do think that basic education would really help set up that awareness so that people can identify it earlier on if there are issues because I’m a huge believer of prevention, over cure, or if there are issues than nipping them in the bud and getting on to them sooner rather than later.

So, we’re talking about when to start. So pelvic floor exercises for particularly for women, women, we are the separate from the male, our male counterparts, our pelvis is wider, there’s a larger surface area. So, when we’re pregnant and postnatal, like naturally, our pelvis is wider to make way for the baby. And because of that, that’s one reason why our pelvic floor is sometimes put under an extra bit of load compared to our male counterparts who have a narrow pelvis. It’s like having a really big trampoline, a really wide trampoline versus a small trampoline. You’re going to get more up and down movement in the wider or the bigger trampoline. The second reason why women are more risk of these issues, we do have hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. And then, of course, there’s action of giving birth. So, whether or not you have the journal birth, or a caesarean birth, like even with a caesarean birth, you’ve had nine months of baby and all the fluid and everything that comes with pregnancy sitting on top of that pelvic floor muscles, so they are under load.

So, if you haven’t started doing pelvic floor exercises, pre pregnancy, I really do think pregnancies have great time to start. They are really gentle. They should never be painful or uncomfortable. It’s your own little secret. There. There’s something that you can be doing during your first second or third trimester. Now I do just want to say a little bit of a disclaimer, if you do have any medical concerns to do if you’re a bit unsure, please do touch base with your medical provider, and your doctor, if you’ve got any questions at all about whether or not this is appropriate for you. But generally speaking, if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, you can start at any stage during pregnancy. So, we’re talking about when, but this is the topic we’re talking about here.

So, when should we start doing pelvic floor exercises? And the answer is now, if you haven’t already. But the I do just also want to, and this is going into the next section, which is how do I do it, because it’s all well and good to start. Like, we don’t want to start suddenly doing a million pelvic floor exercises, just because we’re suddenly pregnant, we do want to make sure we’re doing the exercises correctly. With the right technique, we want to make sure we’re involving beautiful strength, lifts, as well as relaxation. Just as any muscle is in the body, it needs to be able to be nice and strong. And it also needs to relax. I think a nice way to think about this is your neck and shoulder muscles. Imagine if you had a chronic headache, you know, headache one day, you probably find you’re hitching your shoulders up towards the ears a little bit. So, you these muscles around your neck and shoulder are probably active. And they probably need to relax a little bit more. Because if we are activating muscles for a long period of time, we might develop pain issues. So, it is super important. Research has found that pelvic floor strengthening can help with recovery outcomes. So, reducing our risk of prolapse incontinence, those post birth recovery, and I am keeping an eye on research because it does keep developing every day.

But I also want to say it’s important, the actual childbirth aspect of you having a vaginal birth, that ability to relax your pelvic floor is equally important. So, the reason I’m telling you this is it’s not a time to start doing a million exercises all at once, we want to make sure we’re doing them properly. So how often it’s a little bit individual, I would love it. If gold standard. If you can, if you’re able to go get a pelvic floor assessment, you will be able to get an individualized plan. For some women, we really want to have a bit of a burst of rehab. So pelvic floor training, so I encourage three times a day, not a week. But for other women, it might be once a day or once every second day. So every prescription is different. Now, I know not everyone wants to go and have a vaginal pelvic floor assessment. I know not every woman is able to perhaps you live regionally or rurally. Or there’s no pelvic floor physios close to you. I know, I know that not everyone just wants to so gold standard, I’d say if you can have a pelvic floor assessment. But if you can’t, there are other resources. And I will just say that FitNest Mama does have a whole module on pelvic floor exercises. So, what they are, how to do them. And we go through a pelvic floor program. And every single workout finishes with pelvic floor exercises and all those beautiful different elements of pelvic floor exercises.

The second thing I do just want to say is if you feel, there’s two ways to have a pelvic floor assessment, and I’m talking about Australia at the moment, generally you can go to the public’s health system, or private. So, the public system, if you’ve got any concerns that I talked about earlier, so if you are concerned about leaking or prolapse, go and have a chat to your GP. And they will see if you’re eligible or appropriate for an a referral to your local continence clinic at your local hospital that has a continence clinic. The thing is with those continence clinics is sometimes there’s a really long waitlist. And especially if you’re not top priority, sometimes you’re on the waitlist for good eight months. So, the other options privately and that’s when you can book in with your local pelvic floor physio. You don’t need a referral. You can just go and have an appointment with them. They can discuss you through options in terms of the different ways of assessing your pelvic floor and talk you through from them. But I do just want to say even if you think you’re doing your pelvic floor exercises, there has been some research to show I think was 20% of women who think they’re doing a pelvic floor exercise properly are actually not. So that’s just something to bear in mind, that’s why I do think gold standard, every woman to get that baseline awareness of where they’re at, and how make sure they’re doing it properly.

So, we have covered what the pelvic floor muscles are, why we need to do them, when we need to start and going into the how to do a pelvic floor. I’m going to leave you hanging because starting on Friday, every Friday, we’re going to have a Friday floor session. This is going to be super quick. Three-minute podcast episode, five-minute podcast, I don’t actually know how long it will be. I haven’t recorded it yet. But I am talking you through pelvic floor exercises. Going to take you through different elements of pelvic floor exercises that every week will be a different set of pelvic floor exercises. Some weeks, we might do more endurance hold others we might do more relaxation, some weeks, it might be more about the quick lifts. Other weeks, it might be combined like it’s just going to be the reason I’m doing this is because every time I get on to my Instagram page, and talk through stories with the pelvic floor exercises, there’s always people messaging me saying, “Thank you so much, I needed that reminder.” Because I do totally admit pelvic floor exercises are boring. They’re and they’re hard to remember to do. They’re hard to prioritize. They’re always something on the to do list. So, I hope by having a weekly podcast episode that pops onto your phone. So, if you’re not following me on the podcast app, so whether or not it’s followed or subscribe, do so because then you’ll get access to the latest episode. And I just hope that this will help remind you, but also make it a bit more easy. I’m going to talk you through it, we can all do it together. And then that’s one thing ticked off your to do list that you might choose to repeat a few times. So, you might listen to that for a couple of days until the next podcast episode comes out.

So, I hope that will be helpful starting this Friday. So, if you’re listening to this at the time that it’s released, we’re starting June, and we’re going to just trial it every Friday. So, it’s going to be a second podcast episode every Friday just a very short, pelvic floor podcast episode. So, I’m super excited. Send me a message on Instagram @fitnetmama. Let me know is this something that you’re excited about? Or is it just me and I’m going to be the only one doing that. So that’s its ladies. Hopefully that episode was helpful. Thank you so much for joining me today. I do always appreciate each and every one of you taking the time out to listen to this podcast and I look forward to you join me next week or on Friday, I should say, for our first ever Friday Floor Session. Catch you soon.

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!

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