Welcoming a new human into the world is a miraculous experience. Whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth, as you navigate the postpartum period with its very unique challenges, it's important to prioritize your pelvic floor recovery. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that provide crucial support during pregnancy and childbirth. However, the strain of pregnancy and the demands of labor can weaken these muscles. In this blog post, I’ll explain why pelvic floor recovery matters and give you practical steps to support your healing process.
Why Does Pelvic Floor Recovery Matter? Even if you had a C-Section?
It restores its functionality
The pelvic floor muscles play a vital role in your bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and core stability. Proper recovery ensures these functions return to normal after pregnancy and birth, reducing the risk of urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual discomfort, and other pelvic floor dysfunctions.
It enhances your overall healing
After pregnancy and giving birth, whether it was vaginally or via C-section, your body needs time to heal and regain strength. Besides the usual rest that is recommended in the first six to 10 weeks postpartum, focusing on gently supporting your pelvic floor recovery accelerates the healing process, allowing you to resume your daily activities with greater confidence.
It prevents future complications
Many people aren’t aware that neglecting pelvic floor recovery can lead to long-term issues. Strengthening these muscles right after birth can help prevent potential problems such as pelvic floor dysfunction, back pain, and muscle imbalances later in life (i.e. after menopause).
How to Start Your Pelvic Floor Recovery
1. Talk to your doctor or midwife
Schedule a postpartum check-up with your healthcare provider to evaluate your pelvic floor health. They can assess any specific concerns or complications and provide personalized guidance on your recovery journey. They will also clear you for exercise after the 6 or 10 weeks after birth. Unfortunately most doctors don’t pay particular attention to your pelvic floor health unless you had a significant tear or damage during vaginal birth. This is why it’s so important that you advocate for yourself and ask specifically for a check up of your pelvic floor, especially if you had a C-section.
2. Breathe deeply
Deep breathing not only promotes relaxation but also aids in pelvic floor recovery. Focus on diaphragmatic breathing, allowing your diaphragm and pelvic floor to expand as you inhale deeply. Exhale fully, engaging your deep core muscles and gently lifting the pelvic floor. Actually, if you breathe deeply, you don’t even need to consciously move your pelvic floor. The breathing alone moves the pelvic floor muscles up and down. In my FREE pregnancy and postpartum yoga foundations course I show you how to breathe correctly (yes, a lot of us tend to not use the full potential of a breath). GET ACCESS HERE.
3. Start with gentle pelvic floor exercises
Kegels are a widely recognized exercise for pelvic floor recovery. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Start with gentle contractions and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. Incorporate them into your daily routine, aiming for at least three sets of ten repetitions. I have an exclusive video showing you how to do a couple of these exercises in my Freebie to prep you for birth and postpartum with Yoga 😉.
4. Focus on your deep core
Strengthening your core muscles, including the deep abdominal muscles and the muscles around the hips, can provide additional support to the pelvic floor. If you live in Germany (and some other European countries), your health insurance covers a pelvic floor recovery course in person or online (in German called Rückbildung) that can be taken once you have been cleared by your doctor. It usually consists of 6 to 10 one-hour long classes and sometimes they are designed to be taken together with your baby. The courses promote muscle development to strengthen and stabilize the back, abdomen and pelvic floor in a very gentle and targeted way. I highly recommend you make use of this amazing gift the government has given you! If you don’t have such a course in your country, please consult with a qualified postpartum fitness professional to guide you through safe and effective exercises tailored to your needs.
5. Seek Professional Support
Depending on how you’re feeling after the first 10 weeks postpartum and how intense labor and birth was for your pelvic floor, consider working with a pelvic floor physical therapist or a specialized postpartum fitness or yoga instructor. They can provide personalized guidance, assess your specific needs, and design a tailored exercise program to support your pelvic floor recovery. You can schedule a consult video call with me here.