By Janie Thompson, National Continence Helpline Manager

There is a lot of advice on what couples should do to prepare their bodies before they start trying to have a baby and when they get pregnant, such as avoiding alcohol and taking vitamins. What about your pelvic floor health? This is something you should also look into as pregnancy and childbirth have a huge impact on a woman’s or birthing person’s pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor has a big role in pregnancy and childbirth. It helps to support your uterus (or womb) as well as your bladder and bowel. Pregnancy hormones and changes in hormone levels as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, have an impact on most parts of your body including your pelvic floor. They help to relax and soften your pelvic floor muscles and ligaments to allow you to accommodate your growing baby and this is further increased during the birth of your baby.

Pelvic floor exercises have been shown to decrease the risk of urinary incontinence when you are pregnant or after having a baby. This is especially true if you are continent, or don’t experience any leakage of urine, and you exercise your pelvic floor muscles in the early stages of your pregnancy.


Doing pelvic floor exercises correctly can be tricky as they are not obvious muscles you can see. Have a look at the Continence Foundation of Australia’s website on pelvic floor exercises including this 3D 
animation video as well as the Pelvic Floor Health for Expectant and New Mums booklet. This information will help you understand what pelvic floor exercises involve, how to squeeze or contract your pelvic floor muscles and what a pelvic floor exercise program looks like. Chat to your obstetrician or midwife about pelvic floor exercises to make sure you are on the right path.

It can be very helpful to see a continence healthcare professional, such as a pelvic health physiotherapist, especially if you are unsure how to do pelvic floor exercises or if you are experiencing any incontinence or have a bladder or bowel control issue. They will be able to check that you are squeezing your pelvic floor muscles correctly and give you an individualised exercise program based on your muscles strength and stamina. They will determine how strong your squeeze is and how long you can hold the squeeze for. They will also check to make sure you are able to relax your pelvic floor muscles well between any squeezes. A healthy pelvic floor is important preparation for having your baby.

Once you have your pelvic floor exercise program worked out, you will need to look at how you are going to incorporate these exercises into your daily life. There are various apps around that can help you remember to do your exercises which can be either pelvic floor specific or a timer such as a simple reminder on your smart phone.

Therefore, don’t forget to include your pelvic floor health in your preparation for having a baby. Get support if you are unsure of what to do or where to go. You can call the Continence Foundation of Australia’s National
Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 and speak to a Nurse Continence Specialist for free and confidential advice regarding your bladder, bowel and pelvic floor health. The nurse can also assist you to find a continence healthcare professional near you. Rather help to plan ahead to ensure they get to the toilet in time.