Pelvic Floor, Prolapse and Diastasis are words every pregnant woman should hear and understand

After 3 years of Fertility challenges and IVF, I was confident that I had learnt to listen to my body, but with all great lessons, if you don’t learn it the first time it will come back around.  

Prolapse, Pelvic Floor and Diastasis were 3 things I knew little about. I had always been a fit and strong person, I loved high intensity exercise and competitive sport but had also discovered Pilates and working on core strength.  But no one, during my pregnancy asked me if I was doing my Pelvic Floor exercises or even better, if I was doing them correctly.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding the hormones Relaxin, Progesterone and Oestrogen are released into your body, allowing the softening of tissues to accommodate for the growing baby. This softening, coupled with increased weight of the baby and mother, adds to the pressure on the pelvic floor. During child birth the muscles and ligaments are stretched to allow the baby to pass through the pelvis.

Pelvic Floor Muscle do so many things to support our body; they

-work with the deep abdominal/back muscles to support the spine,

-control pressure in the abdominal cavity,

-assist in supporting the bladder, bowel, and uterus in a woman,

-help maintain bladder and bowel control, and

-play an important role in sexual sensation and function.

Understanding your pelvic floor, and how to correctly improve it can significantly minimise the pressure that pregnancy and birth can place on your body. 

image via babycenter

image via babycenter

Diastasis recti (aka abdominal separation) is commonly defined as a gap of roughly 2 fingers or greater between the left and right abdominal muscles.  The distance between the muscles is created by the stretching of the linea alba, a connective collagen sheath, in order to accommodate the enlarging uterus.

Once you've delivered your baby, and your hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy levels, that thinning generally improves. Until this has improved it is important to avoid certain exercises that may increase the separation, such as crunches and sit ups.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a descent of one or more of the pelvic organs. This includes the bladder, bowels and uterus. Prolapse occurs when there is a weakness in the structural supports of the pelvic floor. These supports include the pelvic floor muscles, pelvic ligaments, the connective tissue and the walls of the vagina and bowels.

The best thing you can do for pelvic organ prolapse is to prevent it, pregnancy is one of the times we are at higher risk, so it is nice to be aware and try to prepare your body the best you can;

-       touching base with a Physiotherapist specialised in Women’s Health

-       eating a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated (Avoid Constipation)

-       maintaining comfortable exercise and listening to your body

-       supporting your belly as it gets larger,

I used to wear Spanx to fit into a tiny dress, now I wear high waisted leggings because it feels amazing and has allowed my body to restrengthen.  Ensuring you exercise under a health professional specialised in pregnancy and/or post-natal fitness can make a huge difference to you journey.

The more we all talk about our bodies and what occurs, the more we will all understand and improve our journey into motherhood and beyond.  It’s incredible what the female body can do to create a life.  Learning to listen to my body, respect what it has been through and understanding that during birth not only is a child born, but a mother also.

By Barbara Black 

Barbara is a Kanga Training fitness instructor. Kangatraining offers a total body workout while your baby can relax as they are with you the whole time. A safe and gentle workout that concentrates on restrengthening the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles in a fun environment with like minded mothers. To find out more visit here

Tess Doig