Pregnancy, as well as labor and delivery, is the number one cause of pelvic floor dysfunction in women. Complications associated with pelvic floor dysfunction can be long lasting and put great emotional and financial strain on new mothers. The most common complications caused by pelvic floor dysfunction are urinary incontinence (leaky bladder syndrome), pelvic organ prolapse, fecal incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, and lost time at work.
The pelvic floor is the muscles, ligaments, connective tissues, and nerve’s that support the pelvic organs. The pelvic organs are made up of the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. The pelvic floor helps these pelvic organs function. During pregnancy, the mother will undergo many different types of stresses that can lead to dysfunction and instability of the pelvic floor.
Research has found that pelvic floor training during pregnancy and regular chiropractic adjustments can decrease the time and complications of labor for both the mother and baby. Pelvic floor retraining during pregnancy can build strength and endurance of the muscles that assist with delivery. Proper training can decrease the time of the first and second stage of labor by up to 28 minutes. With decreased labor times the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction decreases and the risk of injury or complication during labor also decreases.
Adjustments have also been shown to have a profound effect on the pelvic floor. Recent research has shown that adjustments can help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor as well remove stress form the mother’s pelvis which can decrease labor time and pain.
The pelvic floor is closely tied to the core muscles. Abdominal braces are a great way to maintain the pelvic floor. To perform an abdominal brace
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Push your belly button toward the floor so that you flatten out the natural arch of the back against the floor. Do not lift your shoulders off the floor.
- Hold for 10 seconds 10 x in a row.
Kegel exercise is another very popular technique to strengthen the pelvic floor. To perform a Kegel exercise, follow these steps.
- First find the right muscle: to identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.
- Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
- Perfect your technique; tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Maintain your focus; for best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises. Repeat three times a day; aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.