In the last of my summer guest blogs Ana from Brighton Pilates Studio explores pelvic floor health during and after pregnancy.

Are you confused about how to exercise your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy?



At the studio we see so many women suffering from pelvic instability, pain, and in many cases a dysfunctional pelvic floor and incontinence suffered in silence… The added challenges on the pelvis during pregnancy and birth can determine a decline in the health of the pelvic floor. But the good news is: this need not be the case. A healthy female pelvis is designed to go through these challenges and rebound back to elasticity soon after birth. The problem arises when the pelvic floor is already suffering from hours of sitting, the added tensions of not very optimum posture, old injury in the pelvis, hips or even a shoulder or a foot… The pelvis was designed to give birth, and not designed to expend hours sitting. So yes pelvic floor health tip number one: less time sitting!

I suggest you move your laptop from the desk to the chair now and squat on the floor to continue reading this post… Reducing the time you expend sitting requires commitment, and if you have a desk bound job you might feel unable to wave goodbye to your chair. Nevertheless try to find more breaks in your screen time, move more, and I should say move well more. Come to some classes and exercises on your own and squat. Squat down as often as you get a chance, this is a heals on the ground type of squat, all the way down “ass to grass” squat. Pilates can help re-establish the heath of your pelvis for the good. If you are pregnant or just have had a baby find a good local class and commit to it .

At Brighton Pilates Studio we hold a pregnancy class every Saturday morning and make it easy for new mums to spring back to strength with a mother and baby postnatal course where you bring baby with you. We also hold classes on the Pilates equipment where you follow your own program, each class has a maximum of 4 people and there is a flexible timetable where you can book into the classes that suit your week’s schedule.

Pelvic floor and breath So the pelvis is not made for sitting but rather for standing, walking, squatting, lunging, stepping, jumping… in the whole moving. And in moving, breathing. Yes, breath. The pelvic floor and the diaphragm have an important relationship. The diaphragm is a big parachute like muscle separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. You could imagine it as the celling, as the dome of the chamber of the abdomen, while you could see the pelvic floor as the base, the floor of this chamber Inside this chamber of the abdomen your organs are soft and fluid, so every time you breathe in your diaphragm contracts down, the organs feel the movement and transfer this pressure to the walls of the abdomen and the pelvic floor. So the pelvic floor moves with your breath, slightly down with the in breath, and up with the out breath. And as you take about 20000 breaths a day, this is a lot of up and down movement! An elastic pelvic floor, will meet the force of the breath and will give in slightly with the in breath and recoil back up with the out breath. You want the elastic tissues of your pelvis to give in as much as necessary and come back when they need to. And this elastic recoil comes from good relationship between the movement of your diaphragm and the pelvis, good spinal alignment is going to really influence this relationship and have an impact in the strength of your core. The stronger structures in nature are elastic, movement in the animal world shows itself as a fluid recoil, an ability to rebound with ease as a response to force. Imagine a cat landing after a jump, we too have this capability of meeting gravity and reacting with ease rather than compressing through the structure. For example a cat meets the landing through an elastic structure. This is the type of elastic strength we are looking for in a pelvic floor to allow us to transfer load safely with spring and elasticity, whether load comes from below in the form of a jump, or from above in the form of a sneeze, a cough or a burst of laugher.

by Ana Barretxeguren from Brighton Pilates Studio 01273 911710