Mon 15, Mar 2021

Pelvic health through life: pregnancy and childbirth
Pelvic health through life: pregnancy and childbirth

As you go through life, your body changes with you. Read to find out how significant life events can mean different things for bladder, bowel and pelvic health.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is full of big changes and milestones. These amazing changes help prepare for birth but also have an impact on your pelvic health and whole body.

During pregnancy the body releases hormones that soften muscles, including your pelvic floor muscles. This, with the extra weight of a growing baby, can weaken your pelvic floor and what it can support. You can make it stronger by doing pelvic floor exercises before, during and after pregnancy. The exercises help reduce the chance of experiencing incontinence after birth.

Everyone has advice for you when you’re pregnant or have a new baby! Download The Pregnancy Guide to take the guesswork out of learning about bladder and bowel control.

Add pelvic floor exercises to your day with reminders from the free Pregnancy Pelvic Floor Plan app. Download on the App Store or Google Play.

Childbirth

During a vaginal delivery, the vagina stretches and the supporting tissue and pelvic floor can tear. Women who give birth to a larger baby, have a longer labour or difficult delivery are more likely to have bladder or bowel problems.

Some women notice leakage (urine or stool) during pregnancy or after birth. It can take time for your pelvic floor and muscles to recover after birth, and every person is different. Most notice their bladder and bowel concerns improve in the first six months after birth.

Make sure to raise any issues with your health professionals. They are there to help and telling them what you feel (your symptoms) is important.

You don’t have to put up with incontinence just because it’s common during pregnancy and after birth. There is lots of help available – find out more by speaking with your health professional or phoning the free and confidential National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

Amy’s story

“At appointments after my diagnosis of pelvic floor tear and prolapse, I discovered how common it is to experience birth injuries, prolapse and incontinence. It is still hard to understand why something so common and grim is met with silence.

My dream is for more women who have experienced birth injuries to know that they aren’t alone and that they don’t need to suffer in silence. If we don’t start talking about common issues that occur from childbirth, then how will we ever fix our overall quality of life? If you’re reading this and any of it resonates with you, please seek support because this doesn’t have to be your new normal.”

Amy Dawes, Co-Founder of the Australasian Birth Trauma Association

Click here to read Amy’s full story

Also in this series: menstruation and menopause

This story was first published in Bridge Magazine. Subscribe and receive Bridge straight to your inbox.  

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