As a physiotherapist, I always had a nonchalant attitude towards my pelvic floor strength and function. Having had one lecture on the topic during my undergraduate training, I had decided that a) I will never have this problem because I'm a physio and I now know better and b) this only happens to old ladies. I learnt very quickly, before the age of 30, that neither of these sentiments were true. After the birth of my second child, I realised that I wasn’t strong anymore but I was in denial because I am a physiotherapist and this thing shouldn’t be happening to me. I struggled with stress incontinence which was most embarrassing . I kept telling myself I know better and really tried to do 'Kegel' exercises. I honestly believed that I was activating perfectly and with time this problem will eventually get better. I was concerned that being leaky was going to be something that I should just accept.
Fast forward one year later: there were no improvements and I met a pelvic floor physiotherapist at a course. For the first time she made me realise that I not only wasn’t activating my pelvic floor or core properly but I also couldn’t feel my pelvic floor! PANIC!!
I immediately got help from a pelvic floor physiotherapist. I was devastated when she showed me how weak I was and how I couldn’t activate my pelvic floor even though I thought I was fantastic with my kegels. She taught me how to get in touch with my core and pelvic floor and how to do things correctly. A lightbulb moment!! In just a few sessions I was on my way to powering my pelvic floor.
Fast forward to today: I still 'exercise' my pelvic floor. I am much stronger now than I was pre-mummyhood. I no longer struggle with stress incontinence unless I jump for too long on the trampoline- I can live with this. For me, the biggest lesson was to really learn to be in tune with my body and I am thankful for my physio who gave me the right tools to be in control.
Since the pelvic floor muscles are situated at the bottom of your pelvis, it's difficult to visualise and feel. The pelvic floor is made up of various muscles that form a hammock at the bottom of your pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, vagina and bowel in women and the bladder, prostate and bowel in men.
When tightened (squeezed), the muscles lift the organs and close their openings. When relaxed, one is able to easily and effectively empty the bladder and bowel. Weakness as well as excessive tightness of the muscles can result in poor function which leads to incontinence and /or pain. It is important to have active control and awareness of how to contract and relax these muscles for optimal function
Physiotherapy teaches you how to:
• Exercise your pelvic floor muscles correctly.
• Retrain pelvic floor muscles so that you are able to effectively contract and relax the muscles.
• Regain pelvic floor control while sneezing, coughing, laughing and lifting.
• Maintain pelvic floor control.