A woman’s body is remarkable when it comes to the miraculous events of growing, birthing and feeding a baby! But pregnancy and birth can present significant challenges for your ‘core’ – especially for the pelvic floor and the abdomen.
It’s not just about muscles and strength
- Even if you have strong core muscles before you get pregnant, the hormones of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding can influence your connective tissue – particularly the ligaments within the pelvis that hold the bones together and that also support your pelvic organs. As your body softens and stretches and expands to accommodate your growing baby and prepare for birth, it can certainly be more challenging for your core.
- In addition, the forces and loads that your body physically experiences on a day-to-day basis are only increasing as your baby grows!
- After birth, your muscle systems are still recovering and the connective tissue is still under hormonal influence. It is essential to protect tissue healing during the postpartum period (especially if you are nursing) so that your core is able to support you well beyond the early motherhood years and into menopause.
The increasing physical demands and the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy, birth and motherhood often mean that the core could benefit from more support.
Birth itself is also an athletic event
- No athlete would enter a competition without training for it. It makes sense that preparing in advance for birth should help your body cope with the strong physical demands that labour presents.
Preparing and supporting your core for birth can help prevent injury and aid in a smoother recovery afterwards.
Pain is not normal
- In pregnancy: do you have pain in your pelvis (SI joints or pubic symphysis) or lower back when you lie down, sit, stand, walk or lift?
- In motherhood: do you ever have pain in your pelvis, lower back or rib cage?
Pain is your body’s signal that it can’t handle the physical challenges its under and that it could use more support.
You don’t have to live with “lady part” problems
Although incontinence (urinary or fecal) is common, it is not normal. It is a sign that the core canister is not able to manage the physical and functional demands that are being placed on the system. Unfortunately, pregnancy and childbirth are the greatest risk factors for developing urinary incontinence in women.
In addition, pelvic organ prolapse is also common, and some degree of prolapse is seen in 50% of women who have had a baby! (Pelvic organ prolapse is when pelvic organs, such as the uterus, cervix, bladder or bowel, may protrude into the vagina because of weakness in the tissues that normally support them.) You also don’t have to live with pain or pressure in your pelvis.
If you are experiencing problems with incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, you need to seek help from a physician and possibly a physiotherapist specializing in women’s health. However, it is very likely that extra support for your core would also be helpful!