Are you confidently doing the WRONG thing?

Written by: Dianne Edmonds Posted on 17 Mar 2012 0

Lately there have been a number of articles on postnatal exercise, and getting back into shape after pregnancy, but many still ignore the pelvic floor!
With the rise of the plank and hover exercises, women seem to be advised to go from gentle abdominal postnatal bracing exercises working the transversus abdominus, straight to hovers , planks and sit ups.
That is like going from Kindy to High School in one jump.

Many women are missing the ‘bits in between’ only to have their ‘bits’ fall down later on. 1 in 2 women in Australia experience a pelvic organ prolapse.

Is it time to say this has gone a bit too far???

It is time to check that you are doing exercises that are safe and at the right level for during and after pregnancy. Your instructor should be trained in Pelvic Floor First principles and in safe pregnancy and postnatal exercise delivery. These courses are now available at Australian Fitness Network on line at Some instructors have worked together with Continence and Women's Health Physiotherapists, gained their knowledge and skills over time to deliver great programs for pregnant and postnatal women. Be sure to check against the following for any program that you attend.

Here is what you SHOULD DO in the first 3-4 months after the birth to protect your pelvic floor!

- AVOID any exercises on your back with both feet lifted off the floor together

- NO Sit ups and curl ups until your pelvic floor muscles are ready (ignoring this means you could cause a prolapse, which is when your bladder, uterus or bowel can be pushed down and out of your vagina). When you lie down and lift your head and shoulders off the floor, the muscles that mainly work the most are the upper abdominals, which puts pressure downwards on your pelvic floor. The more you lift, the more pressure down. If your pelvic floor is not ready, then it can be weakened causing prolapse, long term weakness or bladder control problems (incontinence).

- NO sit up fitness tests seeing how many sit ups that you can do in one minute. This does not test the area where the work is most needed. Your deep core is the area to target if you really want to reduce that ‘jelly belly’. Postnatal abdominal muscle fitness checks are outlined from page 25 – 28 of As Your Shape Changes.

- NO Lifting, pushing or pulling heavy weights too early – if you need to hold your breath then you could be pushing down on your pelvic floor

- NO burpies or star jumps

- NO running, skipping or jumping until you pass the Pelvic Floor Fitness test on page 30 of As Your Shape Changes

If you do an exercise and it makes you want to ‘wet yourself’ then why are you doing it? It is too strong, you are not ready or you are just tired and your form isn’t so good today.

Consider your body becoming stronger for longer, not just for today. Make the right choice today, as often problems with your pelvic floor just don’t ‘go away’. They need correct attention, exercising them well and regularly, and they need protection while they are recovering from the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth.

Do you want to become ‘a statistic’ in the group of one third of Australian women who have ever had a baby wet themselves, according to the Continence Foundation of Australia? If not, take the time to do it right the first time. The Continence Foundation of Australia also reports that about half of all women who have had a child have some level of pelvic organ prolapse, but only one in five women need to seek medical help. If you are unsure, ask for help and advice, and check if the source of this advice ‘the best’?" 

The Pregnancy Centre recommends the following instructor courses available on line at Australian Fitness Network
- CFA Part 1: Positive Practice for the Pelvic Floor (5 CEC’s)
- CFA Part 2: Proactive Programming for the Pelvic Floor (4 CEC’s)
- Exercising for Two (7 CEC’s)

For further information on what to do to do it ‘right’ in the long term, read the articles in the Return to Sport area of our website.

To find out where to get help if you do have a pelvic floor problem, the Continence Foundation of Australia provides a free call Helpline service, which can also put you in touch with your nearest Continence and Women's Health Physiotherapist or Continence Nurse Advisor. Phone 1800 33 00 66.

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