The role of pelvic floor muscles
What can I expect from my pelvic floor after the birth of my baby?
Your pelvic floor will not be very strong initially after childbirth.
You may also feel that you have difficulties working with your pelvic floor and that you have little sensation.
This usually improves with time, but the more you are able to work your pelvic floor, the quicker the recovery will be.
You may find that you have trouble controlling your bladder and if you have this problem, you may need to see a physiotherapist to help you strengthen your pelvic floor.
Your GP will be able to refer you if needed.
How often should you do pelvic floor exercises?
You should work at your own speed, and you will need to determine your own 'starting level'.
Tighten your pelvic floor. You can do this by imagining you are desperate to have a wee and you are trying to stop yourself. Hold this for as many seconds as you can, up to a maximum of 10 seconds.
Release the contraction and rest for 4 seconds.
Then repeat the 'tighten, hold and release' movement as many times as you can, up to a maximum of 10.
For example, if you can hold the contraction for 2 seconds and repeat 4 times, this is your starting level.
Anatomy of the pelvic floor
What is the role of a women’s health physiotherapist? How can I find out about ones in my region?
Women’s health physiotherapists offer specialist assessment and rehabilitation for pelvic, bladder and bowel pain and dysfunction.
These symptoms are often associated with pregnancy, birth and menopause.
You can be referred to these services by your GP, or sometimes you can refer yourself directly by getting in touch with them.
In some maternity units there are Women’s Health Physiotherapists based on the postnatal ward and you can see them after you have had your baby.
The NHS has further information about accessing physiotherapy:
Returning to exercise
After pregnancy, avoid high impact exercise and heavy lifting for 4-6 weeks.
This is particularly important for women who have had a third or fourth degree tear.
After 4-6 weeks you can gradually increase your general activity.
Futher reading and resources