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Obstetrics and gynaecology
Your Midwife will have stressed the importance of pelvic floor exercises during your pregnancy, but these exercises are important throughout life, not just in pregnancy and after delivery. When done properly and regularly, pelvic floor muscles will improve the strength of the pelvic floor.
Strong pelvic floor muscles help you to:
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles which run from the pubic bone to the base of the spine; they are stretched like a hammock.
The pelvic floor muscles are kept firm and slightly tense to prevent leakage of urine, wind and faeces from the bowel.
The muscles relax when you pass urine or have a bowel movement, tightening afterwards so retaining control. Weak muscles means less control.
The pelvic floor muscles are also important to help increase sexual awareness for both partners during sexual intercourse.
During pregnancy, a hormone relaxin is released throughout the body. It softens the tissues, allowing the body to expand as the baby grows. It also allows the pelvic floor to stretch wide as you give birth.
The softening effect of the relaxin and the pressure from the increasing weight of the baby make it difficult for the pelvic floor muscles to keep the pelvic organs in their correct position. The pelvic floor muscles and ligaments are stretched at birth.
The muscles can be damaged:
In order to identify the pelvic floor muscles you need to imagine you are trying to stop yourself from passing urine and wind.
The feeling is of’ lift and squeeze’, closing and drawing up of the front and back passages at the same time should be exercising the pelvic floor muscles. To start with, you will need to concentrate.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are for life. They should become something you just do!
Antenatal pelvic floor exercises - patient information leaflet
Produced by Mandy Kingston, August 2010.
Revised October 2011, August 2013, June 2014, February 2019, May 2020, June 2021, May 2023.
Revision due May 2025. Version:8.0
©The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2023. All rights reserved.