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In case you didn’t know, having a baby is a big deal. Shocking, I know. Pregnancy and childbirth are game-changers and impact a mother emotionally, psychologically and of course physically.

One part of the body that is often affected yet overlooked? The pelvic floor. This is a muscular bowl inside the pelvis that supports the pelvic organs. Like a mom, it has many jobs: As one of the main core muscles of the body, they provide stability, helps start and stop the flow of urine and feces, and play a role in sexual function. And let’s not forget: These muscles also help push a baby out during a vaginal delivery.

Unfortunately, these muscles can be easily injured during childbirth. They can be stretched, cut, or torn. Even if a person has their baby via c-section these muscles just helped support a baby for about 40 weeks. Think of how tired you get after rocking your baby for an hour; these muscles were doing that non-stop! As a result, these muscles can become dysfunctional, just like any other muscle of the body. Pelvic floor dysfunction can lead to a variety of symptoms such as urinary incontinence, back pain, or pain while having sex.

Therefore, it is important to have these muscles in good shape. Keeping these muscles healthy prior to pregnancy can improve their function and help with recovery following delivery. Most people assume that means strengthening. Gotta get these muscles a gym membership and mini barbells, right? Not exactly.

While strengthening can be what is needed, sometimes these muscles are actually in a guarded or tightened position and need to learn to relax. Sometimes the muscles need to learn to have better overall coordination which can help during delivery. Or maybe the muscles are strong but need to improve their endurance. In general, the pelvic floor muscles need to have a good range of motion, coordination, and strength to do their job well.

Every person, and pelvic floor is different. Therefore, it is important to consult a pelvic floor specialist to determine what an appropriate treatment plan would be for you. In many countries, pelvic floor physical therapy is automatically provided postpartum. A pelvic floor PT can address any pelvic floor dysfunction pre- or post-partum and of course help with the recovery process after delivery.

Motherhood can be challenging and it can be difficult to make time for yourself, but in my opinion, getting your pelvic floor working well should be a part of the mom routine.