There are many benefits to getting a pelvic floor assessment during pregnancy rather than waiting until your postnatal assessment. A pelvic floor assessment during pregnancy can help to:
- Ensure you perform your pelvic floor contraction correctly:
Are you doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly? The answer I often hear is “I’m not sure”. Research indications that up to 60% of women with pelvic floor issues (including prolapse or incontinence) incorrectly contract their pelvic floor muscles. In women with no dysfunction, most are able to correctly contract their pelvic floor muscles however an assessment is essential in confirming this and improving technique. Physios love to ensure you are confident with and correctly performing your pelvic floor exercises to keep you strong and leak free.
- Help prevent leakage during pregnancy:
Pelvic floor muscle training can help prevent urinary leakage in pregnancy. Evidence suggests those who do pelvic floor muscle training in pregnancy reduce their risk of urinary incontinence in later pregnancy by 62%.
- To help prevent leakage postnatally:
Evidence suggests those who do pelvic floor muscle training in pregnancy reduce their risk of urinary incontinence at 3-6 months postnatal by 29% compared to women who do not do pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy.
- To enhance pelvic floor recovery postnatally:
The more you focus on strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy and the better you get at contracting your pelvic floor the easier it will be to commence your pelvic floor rehabilitation program postnatally. Pelvic floor exercises in the postnatal period are essential for recovery, addressing any pelvic floor concerns and preventing long term issues.
- Help address current leakage or prolapse symptoms:
Pelvic floor muscle training can help address and reduce any leakage that you may be experiencing during pregnancy. Prolapse symptoms may also become an issue or worsen during pregnancy. Symptoms may include a heaviness or bulging feeling vaginally, pelvic pain, or difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel. Treatment during pregnancy can assist in strengthening the pelvic floor to help provide more upward support, give your lifestyle modification to assist in symptom reduction or fitting of a vaginal pessary (a silicone device inserted in the vagina to help support the pelvic organs)
- Prepare the pelvic floor for labour and teach you perineal massage:
Towards the end of pregnancy it is important to focus on relaxation of the pelvic floor to prepare for labor. During labour the pelvic floor needs to be able to relax and stretch. An assessment is necessary to teach you how to correctly relax and lengthen your pelvic floor.
Perineal massage is a technique used from 35 weeks to help stretch the perineum and the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for birth. Evidence shows that for first time mums perineal massage can help reduce the risk of tears, and reduce the need for episiotomies. In women who have had a previous vaginal delivery, perineal massage can help to reduce the chance of having ongoing perineal pain at 3 months post delivery.
Having a pelvic floor assessment and starting pelvic floor rehabilitation during pregnancy is extremely beneficial! Don’t wait until the postnatal period to get assessed or start your pelvic floor work.