How to Feel your Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy
by Michelle Kenway – Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Are you pregnant and finding it hard to feel your pelvic floor exercises?
As your baby grows you may notice your pelvic floor exercises becoming progressively more challenging.
Get set to learn how to find and feel your pelvic floor during pregnancy with these expert tips and techniques.
Finding your Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor sits like a mini trampoline inside your body at the base of your pelvis. Your pelvic floor muscles need to be strong and working well to help support the weight of your growing baby.
The physical demand on your pelvic floor muscles increases as your pregnancy progresses. If your pelvic floor muscles are weak and not working well, they’re at increased risk of becoming stretched and weak.
- How to Find your Pelvic Floor
(A) Position your body
Set your posture to help you:
- Sit upright on a firm chair or a Fit Ball
- Lean slightly forwards and support your upper body by placing your hand close to your knees
- Maintain the inwards curve in your lower back
(B) Locate your pelvic floor
To find your pelvic floor sits in your body, feel the area in and around where you are sitting:
- Between your sit bones side to side
- Between your pubic bone at the front and your and tail bone at the back
- Against your 3 pelvic openings (i.e. urethra or urine tube, vagina and anus)
This is the area where you should feel your pelvic floor muscles contracting.
- How to Feel your Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises involve the repeatedly contracting and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor exercises feel like squeezing and lifting inwards, in and around all 3 pelvic openings together followed by a distinct letting go sensation with lowering the pelvic floor back to resting position.
You should never feel discomfort or bulging/bearing down associated with pelvic floor exercises. In the unlikely event that you do, stop your exercises and consult with a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist or doctor.
Tips & Techniques for Feeling Pelvic Floor Exercises
Start your exercises in the position that helps you feel your pelvic floor muscles moving (lying down, sitting or standing).
You may find it easier to feel your pelvic floor exercises lying down especially towards the later stages of pregnancy. Avoid lying on your back from 16 weeks onwards, instead lie on your side if you prefer to do your exercises lying down.
Side Lying Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Position and Technique
- Lie on your side
- Place a pillow length ways between your thighs for comfort
- Squeeze and lift the muscles in and around your 3 pelvic openings to contract your pelvic floor muscles
- Release and lower your pelvic floor back to resting position to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
Practice Tip 1
Place one hand over the gusset in your briefs and try to squeeze and lift your openings away from the pressure of your hand.
Practice Tip 2
Use a hand mirror to observe the movement at the entrance to your vagina. Ideally you will see a squeezing and inwards movement as you contract your pelvic floor muscles followed by releasing action as your pelvic floor muscles relax.
Practice Tip 3
Rest your clean index finger at the entrance to your vagina while you squeeze and lift your 3 pelvic openings. Feel the entrance of your vagina squeeze, lift inwards and then lower back to resting position.
Seated Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Position and Technique
Choose seating that provides quite firm pressure against your pelvic openings to help you feel your pelvic floor muscles moving e.g. Fit Ball, dining chair or the armchair of a lounge.
- Sit tall by lengthening your spine ensuring the normal inwards curve in your low back
- Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling
- Squeeze and lift inwards in and around your pelvic openings
- Release and lower your pelvic floor back to resting position
- Maintain your regular breathing pattern throughout.
Practice Exercise 1
Contract and then relax the ring of muscle in and around your anus or back passage (not your buttocks) as if trying to avoid passing wind
Practice Exercise 2
Contract and then relax the muscles in and around your urethra as if trying to stop or slow the flow of urine having once started
Practice Exercise 3
Contract and then relax the muscles in and around your vagina as if resisting withdrawing a tampon
Put these 3 practice exercises together…
Now try to put squeeze and lift inwards in and around all 3 pelvic openings together as high as you can inside your body. Release and lower your pelvic floor back to resting position.
Pelvic floor exercises can be performed standing upright using the same exercise technique already described. Practice your pelvic floor exercises standing upright if/when you’re able to do so.
If you still require assistance with pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy or after childbirth contact a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist or the Continence Foundation of Australia for further assistance.