Your pelvic floor is a domed shaped series of muscles, ligaments and blood vessels that sit in the base of your pelvis. These muscles provide stability and support to your pelvic organs, spine and pelvis. They maintain continence, provide a sexual role for both males and females, and act as a sump pump to move blood and lymphatic fluid.
A growing baby puts more pressure on your pelvic floor which can result in strain and fatigue of your pelvic floor muscles. A healthy, well-balanced, pelvic floor is one that is both strong and supple, can respond automatically to stresses, contract and release voluntarily and meet the demands of ever-increasing loads.
A pelvic floor with healthy supple tone aids in the birth process by facilitating the descent and rotation of your baby through your birth canal. When it comes time to push your baby out, a pelvic floor that can relax, lengthen and release, opens your pelvic door for your baby to be born.
Please know, strong is not tight! In fact, a short and tight muscle is weak. Strong means muscles that can operate through their full range of motion with the ability to fully contract and fully release, as well as have endurance.
A combination of releases and strengthening work can help facilitate a responsive, well-balanced pelvic floor with a full range of motion that ebbs and flows with your inhale and exhale.
Working with an exercise professional trained in pelvic floor health is a safe and effective way to support your pregnancy, prepare for birth and recover postpartum.
Stephanie Maxwell is a Registered Massage Therapist who specializes in Perinatal Massage, a Certified Pelvic Health Yoga Teacher and a Pre and Postnatal Fitness Expert. She is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.