I Am The TENA Lady: On Discovering The Importance Of The Pelvic Floor

Fixing the leak

This is ongoing for me; I have more tests to come. But as usual I’ve done a shit ton of Googling, so I thought I’d share some tips in case you’re experiencing something similar.

Please bear in mind that I’m not a health professional, and if you’re experiencing incontinence you should pay one a visit.

1) Pelvic floor

Yup, you guessed it. Those pelvic floor exercises every medical professional tries to drum into your brain during pregnancy that you treat a bit like exam revision, doing a few frantic clenches the night before baby drops – you actually need to do some.

My routine

Ten quick squeezes in a row – make sure you’re sitting comfortably and don’t hold your breath. Relax the muscles fully after each squeeze. Repeat three times.

After the above, squeeze and hold for a count of ten, again breathing steadily.

I do this three times a day. And I’m praying it will help my muscles stay strong enough to at the very least avoid total prolapse, and at most hold in my wee!

I’ll need to do these for the rest of my life, as I vaguely remember my birthing midwife saying whilst I ignored her in my drugged love stupor.

2) Glutes

Strengthening and stretching your glutes will help to support the pelvic floor. If you do p/f exercises and your glutes are weak, your pelvic floor muscles may over-tighten and draw your sacrum (the small bone in your back connected to these muscles) towards your front, creating a sag.

Strengthening your glutes does NOT mean clenching those cheeks. In fact, that will make matters worse: http://www.coreexercisesolutions.com/articles/best-pelvic-floor-exercises/

Instead, add some properly performed squats into your day, and do some yoga to stretch the muscles http://www.fitness-training-at-home.com/glute-stretches.html. This should help your pelvic floor to stay in the correct position.

3) Posture

I’m terrible at this p word. Mine is a bit like Eeyore’s. What with feeding bent over for months, playing with Alice hunched on the floor and stooping incorrectly to pick her up, I’m all out of whack. So I’m working on staying more aligned whilst sitting, standing, walking and bending.

While we’re down here, another joyous preggo hangover is that my butt has completely disappeared, and not in a good way. Of course I’ve Googled, and it’s pretty common; a combination of nutrients and fat being directed to your breasts, and the tucked-bum posture you adopt in pregnancy to balance all that weight in front. I’ve realised I still tuck my tailbone in all the time, so I’m trying to consciously stand and sit in the correct posture. It’s an effort at the moment and my history with consistency is sketchy, but I hope it will become second nature.

You can also:

See your GP

To check whether you have any degree of prolapse, as this can affect your waterworks (some medical professionals state every woman who has given birth vaginally will have one to some degree, but not all cause symptoms). Note: prolapse isn’t always visible – you can only see your vagina falling out when it’s quite severe – your bladder or bowel may be bulging slightly into your vaginal wall and causing symptoms so you’ll need an examination to check.

Get yourself referred to a gynae physio.

Do Yoga

For almost two years now, my body has been a vessel, life-source and carrier; I am proud of it, leaks and all. I’m not shying away from this topic, because we too often suffer in silence, and it’s always nice to know you’re not abnormal or failing. Growing and birthing a new human being is never failing – the fact it can be done at all is pretty incredible. Yes, your body will be different afterwards; some of the changes you will love, some you will live with, and some you’ll want to work on. Mostly, if you pee yourself, you’ll want to work on it.

Don’t sweat it too much though. It’s all worth it…so, so worth it.

Cathy Oliver is a 30-year-old first time mum to Alice. She writes over at Mummy Woman. Head to Instagram to follow their journey in pictures, and don’t forget to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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