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Barwon Health / Maternity Services

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Pelvic floor muscles in pregnancy

The pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) are a small group of muscles located in the base of the pelvis. They run from the pubic bone at the front to the tail bone at the back. They play an important role in maintaining good bladder and bowel control and supporting the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowel) from below.

It is important to maintain the strength of the PFMs during pregnancy.

Throughout pregnancy, the hormone ‘relaxin’ is released. This softens the connective tissues in your body, allowing your body to adapt as your baby grows. The effect of this hormone, along with the extra weight of your baby can weaken the PFMs. During birth, these muscles and ligaments can then be stretched and weakened further.

To maintain good strength in your PFMs and to avoid problems in the future, you need to do daily exercises. You can start these at any time during your pregnancy but the earlier the better.

Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles

To help to find these muscles you can try whilst urinating and stopping your urine midstream. Start urinating again and then stop. These steps can be used occasionally, for instance once per week, to help you locate your PFMs or to see whether you are getting stronger, but not as a daily exercise. Stopping your urine midstream regularly can cause bladder problems in the long run.

If you are having difficulty finding your PFMs or knowing whether you are tightening the right muscles, you can ask your midwife or GP for a referral to a physiotherapist who specialises in this area. See the related links section for further information.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 29 July 2020