If you’re getting your body ready for pregnancy there’s lots of different aspects to consider from taking folic acid supplements to kicking unhealthy habits such as drinking too much caffeine. Getting yourself in the best possible health will minimise your chances of developing complications and could make your pregnancy more comfortable, as well as being safer for the baby too.

One thing that’s often underestimated is the importance of the pelvic floor muscles. Getting your pelvic floor in good shape before the baby comes along will help you hugely in the long term and could prevent incontinence. Here is more information on why it’s so important and what you can do to prepare.

The importance of the pelvic floor

If you’ve never had children, you won’t appreciate the strength of a good pelvic floor; it’s the one thing that stands between you and incontinence. Being pregnant will put an enormous strain on this part of your body. The larger the baby, the more pressure your pelvic floor will be under.

As the baby grows inside you, the pelvic floor is forced to expand to make sufficient room. The good news is that the pelvic floor is naturally stretchy, often likened to a trampoline. This broad sheet of tissue, muscle and ligaments stretch out from the front of the body at the pubic bone backwards to the bottom of your spine. This sling is very resilient and bounces back even when put under extreme pressure.

However, like everything, there’s a limit to the resilience of your pelvic floor and when it’s subjected to lots of weight for a prolonged period - such as pregnancy - it can become weakened and baggy. This stretching of your pelvic floor can be problematic as it’s this muscle which helps to control your bladder and bowel. When it’s weakened it’s not so easy to prevent leaking, particularly when you sneeze, cough or during exercise.

There are other problems associated with a weak pelvic floor too such as a loss of vaginal sensation during sex and an uncomfortable dragging sensation too. In very extreme cases it’s even possible to suffer from a vaginal prolapse.

Before you recoil in shock and start scrambling for the condoms, there’s good news. Pregnancy doesn’t have to mean you suffer from all of the above: a little preparation goes a long way.

Don’t panic, help is here!

If you’ve never suffered from stress incontinence, the idea may sound terrible but even if the worst happens, there are plenty of products available to make life more comfortable. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to get your pelvic floor in good shape. This means you could avoid suffering from incontinence.

Your midwife can help you with pelvic floor exercises and you may also be shown these in antenatal classes. You’ll need to practice these regularly to increase the strength of your pelvic floor. It may feel like a nuisance, but the beauty of these exercises is you can do them anywhere, even on the bus!

Other things you can do to improve your pelvic floor is not urinating too frequently. You should never become uncomfortable but if you wait until your bladder is full, you will be helping to train your pelvic floor. During pregnancy you will need to go to the toilet more often, so don’t try and hold it in. This could potentially cause water infections so it’s important to get the balance right.

Look after your health

As well as specific exercises to improve your pelvic floor, there’s other things to consider too. Getting your body in the best possible condition will not just help to prevent incontinence, it will make your pregnancy more enjoyable too.

It’s not a good idea to go on a diet when you’re pregnant, although you should still eat healthily. Prior to falling pregnant, if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, it might be useful to try and slim down. Being at a healthy weight during pregnancy carries much fewer risks.

If you do decide to go on a diet, make sure you’re still getting your full complement of vitamins and minerals. Taking a multivitamin with folic acid is also recommended for most women too. If you’re heavier or have a history of babies with neural birth defects you may need to take a higher dose. Talk to your doctor to get advice if either of these apply to you.

Now is the perfect time to kick those unwanted habits before you’re pregnant, such as smoking or drinking lots of caffeine. The latter has been linked to miscarriage and stillbirths so even if you enjoy your coffee, it’s something to take seriously.

If you find that despite following the above advice, you still suffer from incontinence during pregnancy, take a look at HARTMANN Direct. Offering high quality care items you can really trust, there’s everything you need to stay comfortable and dry. 

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