Pelvic Floor Exercises for Pregnancy, Sex, and Peeing when you Sneeze
Having a healthy pelvic floor, doing some pelvic floor exercises, and getting the pelvic floor ready for pregnancy and childbirth, as well as postpartum recovery is a remarkably overlooked aspect of women's health. Pelvic floor exercises, going beyond the old "just do kegels" stand-by, are essential to proper bladder function, increased sexual satisfaction, childbirth, and postpartum recovery.
It is really rather astounding how limited the readily available information on pelvic floor fitness is and how rarely this information is discussed considering how significant the health of the pelvic floor is to a woman. We stand in an odd historical point here in the US where the vagina is everything and nothing all at once. No longer the complete un-mentionable it once was, discussion of the vagina has become something of a hipster staple, an armchair feminist battle-cry, and a social-media numbers wizard. The sad fact is, though, that while the titillation of talking about vaginas has made it not only acceptable but even trendy, the substance is still lacking.
We can talk about vaginas as iconic symbols of feminism* (an odd counterpoint to seeing whole women, or better yet, human beings as symbols of feminism). We can talk about vaginas and whether or not the government should control them (unless, of course, you happen to be a Michigan state representative debating women's rights legislation as pertains to abortion). We can score a few extra hits on a post about our feelings or opinions on other people's sex lives by dropping the V-bomb in the title. We can appear fearless, mature, and modern in our unflinching utterance of such a risqué term freely.
The vagina makes a great tagline, punchline, symbol, or icon. What it doesn't make, apparently, is good content. Because rarely will you see a popular article that actually talks about the vagina as a body part. You'll see ab workouts all day long - on the cover of every fitness mag and popping all over Pinterest.
Skinny legs, healthy skin, shiny hair? Yes. Yes. Yes. A good vag workout? Not so easy to come by. And when you do find it, it will likely boil down to one thing: do some kegels. Done. (Or, alternately, try this or that drug). This is not to say that articles about vaginal health and/or pelvic floor fitness don't exist. They do, but they are fewer and farther between than other health articles and you often have to look a lot harder to find the good ones. And that is complete bullocks. I mean, having a fit pelvic floor is obviously just as important to me as having sexy shoulders - actually, much more so.
Why do we need to talk more about the pelvic floor?
Because it is a major muscle group like any other, and because it has significant impact on your everyday life and health.
I JUST PEED A LITTLE:
According to Medical News Today:
Approximately 25% of young women, up to 57% of middle-aged and postmenopausal women, and around 75% of older women in nursing homes suffer from urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence can inflict considerable and potentially debilitating lifestyle restrictions. In 2004, the United States spent around $19.5 billion on incontinence care. In addition, one estimate reveals that the annualized cost of women's nursing home admissions due to urinary incontinence was $3 billion and 6% of nursing home admissions of older women were due to urinary incontinence. [emphasis mine]
Lets think about those first numbers just for a minute. That is a heck of a lot of women having problems with leaking urine. It is important to note that this is not referring to pregnancy related incontinence. That's a completely separate ballgame. What is even more disturbing is that in many, if not most, of these cases, the incontinence is completely preventable through simple exercises that you can do in the car or even while reading this article (and I'm not talking about kegels - keep reading).
A healthy pelvic floor can completely cure stress incontinence (peeing when you sneeze) or urge incontinence (unexplained, forceful need to pee). When I was pregnant, I definitely started to get some of both. Certain books about expectations when you are expecting and my OB/GYN (the same one who told me he would give me whatever drugs he chose during my birth regardless of what I said), both said it was normal and to expect it. Thank heavens for my midwife and my yogi, who both knew otherwise.
After only a couple weeks of pelvic floor workouts, even being several months pregnant, I was leakage free.
Your pelvic floor is composed of a network of muscles which work together to support your intestines, bladder, and reproductive system (excluding the external portions of the male genitalia). They are part of the greater system of muscles that make up your core and are vital not only to proper functioning of your bladder, bowels, and sexual organs, but also to support of your posture and the overall strength of your body.