May is the month when we celebrate Mothers and Women’s Health. One topic many women don’t talk about much is their pelvic floor health. Most women do not know or only think of their pelvic floor after having a baby. Some say they have pain and other issues months after giving birth. Uchenna Ossai, DPT, Pelvic Health Program Manager at UT Health Austin’s Women’s Health Institute discusses why women should recognize the importance of maintaining good pelvic floor health, before, during and after pregnancy.
What is the importance of the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor are the muscles at the bottom of the pelvis and they are part of the core muscles that we all work so hard to get strong. It’s primary job is to keep the spine stabilized and our organs inside us. But it also helps us with bowel health, bladder health, sexual health and childbirth. Often, people forget this muscle exists, so when you go through childbirth you don’t realize there is a problem until later.
What are some of the conditions that may occur after childbirth? And when should you seek care?
Some women will have low back pain, pelvic girdle pain, but they may also experience urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse or pain with intercourse. Uchenna always tells her patients, especially during planning for children, that if they have issues, that they should address them before they get pregnant.
What steps do you advise women to take before pregnancy?
First, acknowledge that your pelvic floor exists. It’s not something that is taught in school. Once you know you have a pelvic floor, incorporating and training it with all your other muscles, because it is just as important. It’s as important as training your abs and glutes. And, if you have pain issues, you want to seek the care of a professional as well.
- Maintain a healthy, normal weight
- Choose high fiber and drink plenty of fluids
- Exercise your body and pelvic muscles
- If you have any concerns or pain, see a pelvic health specialist.