There are things you can do in pregnancy to help prevent pelvic floor symptoms. Running in pregnancy presents the risk of developing pelvic floor symptoms. Read on to learn what you can do IN pregnancy to help prevent or minimize pelvic floor symptoms both now and later!
Remember that every pregnancy experience is different and every postpartum journey is different.
This can even change between one woman’s own experiences with multiple pregnancies. It certainly has with mine–and it’s changed for the better! I’ve dealt with my own pelvic floor symptoms in both pregnancy and into postpartum, but doing what I can in pregnancy has definitely set me up for better, quicker and smoother postpartum recoveries!
Just because we don’t know what your particular experience will be, we do know that the things that you do now during pregnancy can help you prevent pelvic floor symptoms and help with your postpartum recovery!
When you’re pregnant, you’re more at risk to develop diastasis recti as well as prolapse, than in the postpartum period.
Continuing to run/exercise/lift gives you a better chance for a smoother, quicker delivery and postpartum recovery.
(Disclaimer: this is not a guarantee. Some moms have an "easy" pregnancy with a tough delivery. Or an active pregnancy with a really long and challenging postpartum recovery. Or a tough pregnancy with an easy delivery. Or an active pregnancy with a quick labor and recovery!!)
We should do what's within our control, and that includes staying as strong and active as long as we can in pregnancy.
It has been shown clinically that certain exercises done in pregnancy can help prevent pelvic floor symptoms and even decrease the severity of symptoms, both in pregnancy and into the postpartum period!
Pelvic floor symptoms include a few different things related to your pelvic floor muscles. You may have weakness, tightness or poor coordination of your pelvic floor that can lead to dysfunction.
Your pelvic floor muscles support the weight of your uterus and your growing baby.
And your pelvic floor is connected to your hip and other core muscles, like your back and abdominal muscles. So pelvic floor dysfunction can actually cause some things that may seem unrelated, but actually are.
Women can usually tell if they have pelvic floor issues based on their symptoms. Alternatively, you can see your doctor, midwife or physical therapist for an official diagnosis.
AKA - the feeling that you have to pee ALL the time or the leaking or peeing you experience with any exertion like coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping and running
A separation in the rectus abdominus muscle that occurs as a result of pregnancy. You may notice either doming, sinking or pooching of your belly at rest or with certain exercises.
The feeling of dragging, heaviness or something in the vagina
This includes low back or sacroiliac (SI) pain, pelvic joint pain (like symphysis pubis dysfunction/pelvic girdle pain), and even hip or knee pain
As a mom of soon-to-be four kids, I’ve had lots of experience in both carrying, delivering, and recovering from childbearing/brith.
At the time of this writing, I’m 30 weeks along with Baby #4. Around this time in pregnancy with my 2nd, I could barely walk without pain. I had severe SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) or PGP (pelvic girdle pain).
And it took me more than 1.5 YEARS to get back to running comfortably again.
Because of my training as a physical therapist and my own personal experience, I became a Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist.
I was able to rehab myself back to running (finally!), and keep as strong as possible when I became pregnant again.
My experience the third time around was much, much different–for the better!
With my 3rd, I ran until two days before delivery. Albeit, I had a fair bit of pelvic soreness after my runs and had to give myself 2 rest days between runs.
Now with #4, I'm still running 3-4 times a week, and I can run every other day. I’m still running continuous miles (I’m not doing walk:run segments at all), although at a slower pace, which is to be expected given the size of my belly at this point!
I’ll be honest with you, I'd rather be running most of the time.
But, I know that doing my exercises to stay strong means that I'm also staying as pain free as possible.
And that means that I can run longer into my pregnancy!!
It's SO worth it.
I’m actually feeling stronger and better now in my fourth pregnancy than I was with my second, and I’m older now than I was then, too.
Many moms think that if they had a poor experience in one pregnancy, it will get WORSE in a subsequent pregnancy.
This is only true if you do nothing to help yourself to stay strong and to treat your symptoms!
I’m proof that things can get better with more pregnancies (and with getting older!). I can’t say that my SPD is gone, but I’ve definitely been able to minimize my symptoms to stay active, run, work and play with my kids as much as I want.
My pelvic floor symptoms do not limit me in any way.
My exercise routine only takes me 20-30 minutes 3x a week right now. The exercises that my body needs are not sweat inducing or "hard" per se. But they're challenging in all the right ways, while not aggravating my symptoms.
Keep in mind that it’s not just about what you do, but how you do it.
The intention behind the exercises, where you feel your muscles working and how you feel during and after them is as important, if not more important than choosing the right exercises for your body.
Because of my own experiences with running in pregnancy and getting back to it postpartum, I've expanded my training and knowledge base over the years in order to help moms prevent and heal pain and pelvic floor issues.
I know first hand how important it is to keep running and to get back to it ASAP after the baby arrives.
I design individualized exercise programs to meet your body where it's at and help you get and stay strong. Your program will be short, efficient and super effective.
Don't wait until you have issues, or hope that they just go away on their own!
I've been in both those places and it did NOT serve me at all. It just delayed my healing and my running!!
It’s important that you know what exercises are right for you, for THIS pregnancy that you’re in now.
You also want to make sure that you're doing your exercises correctly and that your body is tolerating them well.
For that reason, I highly recommend seeing a professional who can help you now to prevent pelvic floor symptoms later.
To learn more about my PT and coaching services, and how I can help you in pregnancy and postpartum today, click HERE.