Protecting Your Pelvic Floor: Exercises for Pregnant Women to Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Table of Contents
The Changing Perspective on Exercise During Pregnancy
Although becoming pregnant is a magnificent and life-changing experience, it can also be difficult for many women. Pregnancy can be joyful and overwhelming, with morning sickness, weight gain, and a variety of other physical and emotional changes. During this unique period, it's crucial for pregnant moms to look for both themselves and their developing children. This entails leading a healthy lifestyle and exercising frequently to keep active.
Not too long ago, it was recommended women abstain from exercise while pregnant to protect the baby. Now, however, that’s not the case, as experts agree regular exercise is fine and can even be beneficial to both the developing little one and the expectant mother. In fact, by keeping her body moving, a pregnant woman may experience less back pain, possess more energy and have a smoother recovery after the delivery. It could also improve mood, quality of sleep and benefit her overall health.
Of course, there are certain limitations based on both the baby’s safety and that of the mom-to-be. There could also be specific constraints depending on preexisting health conditions or the particular risks of the pregnancy. As such, it’s essential to check with a prenatal care provider before starting a new exercise or changing a routine.
If you’re expecting and looking for exercises to do while pregnant, it’s important to speak with your provider regarding which ones are best. To help get you started, here are some words of advice on exercise and a few types you can perform depending on the stage of pregnancy.
The First Trimester -Cardiovascular Activities and Modifications for Safe Workouts-
Even at the very beginning, there are certain recommendations to follow. For instance, if you did not exercise regularly before pregnancy, you should start slowly and be sure to get approval from your provider. If you already had a routine in place, maintain that level of activity as directed by your doctor, rather than increase it.
Examples of exercise during the first trimester include strengthening movements such as squats, pushups and bicep curls. You should also practice pelvic tilt and pelvic floor exercises. Generally, it’s recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Appropriate cardio activities include walking, jogging, swimming or using a stationary bike. You can also gain the benefits from Pilates and yoga as long as you make modifications.
The Second Trimester -Listening to Your Body: Signs to Watch for During Workouts-
As you progress into the second trimester, you can continue with walking, yoga, Pilates, swimming and resistance training. However, you should avoid using very heavy resistance equipment and weights. Keep in mind, a workout does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
Exercise during this stage can be especially rewarding since the more active and fit you are, the easier it may be for you to adapt to weight gain and your changing figure. It may also help support labor and your efforts of getting back into shape after the birth. If at any point you feel dizzy, out of breath, are experiencing excessive back or pelvis pain or otherwise feel unwell while working out, you should stop, rest and consider contacting your doctor.
The Third Trimester -Modifying Exercises for Balance and Adaptation in the Later Months-
While you may feel bulky or unbalanced, exercise during the third trimester is still advocated. You can continue with cardiovascular exercises, pelvic floor exercises, squats and some gentle abdominal work. The key is to stay comfortable and avoid feeling exhausted. Generally speaking, a pregnant woman should be able to hold a conversation during exercise. If she becomes breathless while talking, then the physical activity is probably too strenuous.
Throughout the pregnancy, it’s vital you stay hydrated, avoid overheating and wear supportive clothing. Refrain from contact sports as well as activities with a high probability of falling, such as horseback riding, skiing and gymnastics. You should also be mindful of your range of motion as well as general changes to your body. These could relate to your center of gravity being different and ligaments becoming looser during pregnancy.
Postpartum Recovery -Rebuilding Strength and Function: Postpartum Activities and Pelvic Floor Therapy-
A woman's body requires time to recoup and mend following childbirth. While every woman is unique, the majority of medical professionals advise delaying starting a regular fitness program for at least six weeks. Women should still exercise caution and pay attention to their bodies. As usual, it's crucial to speak with a doctor before beginning or making changes to your exercise program after giving birth.
Postpartum activities come in a variety of forms, including stretching, mild cardio, and pelvic floor exercises. Strength and endurance can be developed through physical activity by gradually increasing its intensity and duration. Physical therapy for the pelvic floor can help some women regain appropriate function and reduce the symptoms of incontinence and pelvic pain.
Precautions for Exercising When Pregnant
Exercise during pregnancy should be done with caution and awareness of your body's changes and limitations. There are numerous safety measures to take into account, such as:
Consult your doctor: It's crucial to acquire your prenatal care provider's consent before beginning any new workout or altering your routine. This is especially crucial if you have any current medical issues or if your pregnancy entails particular dangers.
Avoid overexertion: Exercise is recommended during pregnancy, but it's vital to prevent overexertion, which could be hazardous to both you and your unborn child. Avoid activities that make you feel overly exhausted or out of breath, and try to keep your heart rate in a moderate range.
Avoid contact sports: Sports with high contact, such basketball or soccer, carry a risk of injury to both the mother and the unborn child. It is advised to stay away from these activities when pregnant.
Stay mindful of the body: Be aware of your body's changing needs throughout pregnancy, such as a rise in weight and a shift in your center of gravity. To prevent injury, it's critical to be aware of these changes and modify your exercise program as necessary.
Remain hydrated: Staying hydrated is important throughout pregnancy, especially when working out. To prevent dehydration, be sure to drink enough of water prior to, during, and after exercise.
Wear supportive clothes: Supportive clothing can help you maintain excellent posture and lower your risk of injury when exercising, such as a nice sports bra.
Pay attention to your body: If you ever feel uneasy, lightheaded, or overly exhausted when exercising, it's crucial to stop and take a break. It is best to speak with your doctor if these symptoms continue.
Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy
Exercises for the pelvic floor are a crucial part of prenatal treatment. A woman can increase her capacity to control her bowel and bladder movements, lower her risk of incontinence, and promote sexual function after childbirth by toning her pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are easy to perform and may be done anytime, anywhere. Bridges, pelvic tilts, and Kegels are a few well-liked alternatives.
The bladder, uterus, and rectum are supported by the muscles of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor must remain strong and toned throughout a woman's life, not only during pregnancy. These muscles might become weaker after childbirth, which is why pelvic floor training is so important following delivery. Pelvic floor function can also be impacted by sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and other medical problems.
The Benefits of Regular Exercises for Pregnant Women
Aside from the benefits of pelvic floor exercise, there are other advantages of regular exercise during pregnancy. Regular exercise can help you keep a healthy weight, minimize your chance of developing gestational diabetes, reduce stress, and get better sleep. Additionally, studies have revealed that pregnant women who exercise are less likely to develop back discomfort, morning sickness, and exhaustion. Additionally, they frequently experience shorter labor and quicker postpartum recovery.
It's crucial to keep in mind that the body experiences numerous changes throughout pregnancy, including hormone shifts, weight increase, and a changed center of gravity. Women should therefore be aware of how active they are and modify their schedule as necessary. Pregnant women should also be cautious of overheating, which can be harmful to the developing fetus.
Using a Pelvic Support Device
Using a pelvic support device when pregnant can assist to ease pain and support the pelvic region. For women who are exercising or are having pelvic pain, such devices may be very helpful because they may be made to be comfortable and stable. They come in a variety of forms, such as support belts or bands, and may be adjusted to accommodate the changing contour of the body as pregnancy advances. They can be worn discretely under clothing. Before utilizing a pelvic support device, it's crucial to speak with a prenatal care professional to be sure it's suitable for you and your pregnancy.
Women's health, especially during pregnancy and the postpartum period, depends heavily on exercise. Women can increase their general health and well-being, lower their risk of developing certain medical illnesses, and enhance their overall health by keeping their bodies active and maintaining pelvic floor strength. After childbirth, a woman’s risk of pelvic organ prolapse — including uterine prolapse, bladder prolapse, enterocele and rectocele — all increase.
Treatment for the painful symptoms of these conditions can be found with FemiCushion and the experts at the Women's Medical Research Inc. For further information on these conditions and the noninvasive support products available, please see our frequently asked questions page. You can also contact us with any concerns you may have.
Supervising Doctor of This Article
Koichi Nagao, MD PhD
Professor, Department of Urology, Toho University Faculty of Medicine
Director of Urinary tract reconstruction center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Director of Reproduction Center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Professor Nagao specializes in plastic surgery in the field of reproductive medicine. He completed eight years of plastic surgery training at Showa University before majoring in urology at Toho University. With his meticulous surgical techniques and careful examinations that combines urology and plastic surgery, Professor Nagao became a Board Certified Specialist with multiple associations including the Japanese Urological Association, the Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Japanese Society for Sexual Medicine.
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