Firm Foundations™ – Pregnancy and Postnatal Fitness

When you can't feel your pelvic floor

There are times when the pelvic floor muscles are much more challenged from pregnancy and childbirth, and for some women, they weaken so much that they are 'hard to find'. Extreme challenges for the pelvic floor include vomiting, giving birth to a big baby (over 4000 grams) and having an assisted delivery, especially when forceps are used. Also, pushing for more than an hour becomes a challenge for the pelvic floor and all of these mean that your muscles will have been more stretched and weakened, and may not be working so well. Below are some suggestions to work on to help you to find and feel your pelvic floor again.

Disclaimer: This exercise handout is not intended to replace the advice of a health and fitness professional who can tailor your program specifically to your health and fitness needs.


1Get any back or pelvic pain treated

If you have pain, in your back or pelvic joints, it may be stopping your muscles in the area from working correctly. For pain that is not settling down, seek professional advice and treatment.

2Lie down to get started

Start with lying on your back or on your side. Put yourself into a comfortable position, even using a pillow between your legs for support if you need to. This will also align your hips and keep your back from twisting.
Focus in on your pelvic floor. Think about the muscles on the inside.
Begin by drawing up your back passage, like holding on to wind for a few seconds, and relax.
Then repeat and relax. Now focus on the front part of your pelvic floor like you want to hold on to a wee (full bladder). Feel the movement in your pelvic floor even if it is only a small amount of feeling. Relax and repeat.
Use this as a starting point.

3Relax your thighs and bottom

Often when the pelvic floor muscles are really weak to help feel something working, women will tighten their bottom muscles (gluts) and their inside thigh muscles (adductors) instead. Take the time to work on relaxing these muscles first, before lifting your pelvic floor muscles. Sitting on a ball with your legs wide apart and leaning forwards slightly helps to stop the gluts and adductors from working. Then you can focus in on feeling the pelvic floor using the directions above to start with. If you can feel them working then you can build up the hold time by one second at a time as you are able to.

4Wear a support band or belt

Putting on a support belt or band around your pelvis will provide some outside support, gently compressing your pelvic joints. This helps to stabilise this area while the muscles around it are strengthening following  pregnancy and birth. This may help reduce fatigue in the area and allow your pelvic floor muscles to work more easily. Please seek further advice from your health professional about working your pelvic floor when it is quite weakened.

Pregnancy and postnatal compression shorts which are designed specifically to provide support around your pelvis and to help your pelvic floor function are available from

5Get some rest

When you are very tired, your pelvic floor muscles, if they are quite weakened, will be more difficult to feel working. See if there is someone who can help you take a rest, get some of the housework done, or give you time for an extra sleep. This may need to be done over a few weeks to help you regain some more strength and energy.

6Head down bottom up position

Placing your head down and bottom up in a hands and knees position takes the weight of your pelvic organs off your pelvic floor muscles and allows it to work with gravity. Use the steps in number 2 to get you started. If you find this position easier to feel your pelvic floor muscles in, work on holding your front and back passages together for a few seconds, holding for longer as you are able to.

7If problems persist seek advice

If you used these tips and you still feel there is no or little improvement, check with your doctor or midwife, and seek the advice of a Continence and Women's Health Physiotherapist. To find one working in your area contact the National Continence Helpline (Australia) on 1800 33 00 66 or the Australian Physiotherapy Association.