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Becoming a Mum & your Pelvic Floor - Why it's Important to have a Pre & Postnatal Physio Assessment

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Pregnancy & Postnatal Physio Pelvic Floor Assessment

Bringing a new life into the world is an exciting and special time in a woman’s life and with so many new things to think about we know it becomes hard for new Mums to prioritise themselves. Women experience a multitude of changes during pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a mother – both physically and mentally – and their pelvic health is often forgotten.

While many know that both pregnancy and childbirth are risk factors for developing incontinence (1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby have wet themselves) it is not as widely know that symptoms may not appear until menopause. You may not notice symptoms during pregnancy or immediately after childbirth but damage done at these points that isn’t addressed, may become symptomatic at menopause if rehabilitation isn’t completed so its important to check in on your pelvic health even if you think you are fine.

Although some do try to complete what they might think are correct pelvic floor muscle exercises at home, they can be difficult to do on your own. Approximately 30% of people are doing them incorrectly when trying without the guidance of a Pelvic Health Physio. When you complete them incorrectly you can make things worse and even decrease their strength which is why a Physio assessment with either an internal or real-time ultrasound assessment of your pelvic floor is so important.

Pregnancy -

Some common complaints during pregnancy include back pain (neck and lower back/pelvis), incontinence and constipation. A Pelvic Health Physio can help manage all of these. Guidance on how to start or continue to safely exercise throughout pregnancy is also an important part of seeing a Pelvic Health Physio during your pregnancy.

There are many reasons to exercise throughout pregnancy and exercise has been shown to improve quality of sleep, improve mental health and reduce rates of constipation. People who exercise regularly during pregnancy are also less likely to experience gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Plus, maintaining a healthy BMI also decreases the risk for incontinence and prolapse.

If these are not reasons enough, research has also shown that women who exercise regularly during pregnancy are also more likely to have a quicker, less complicated labour/delivery and tend to recover more quickly following delivery.

However, exercise during pregnancy must be done safely – especially if it is something new to mum or if it is a high-risk pregnancy. An assessment with a Physio should be completed prior to starting exercise in pregnancy and then exercise with supervision is recommended thereafter. A Pelvic Health Physio can not only provide guidance into the best and safest forms of exercise for the individual but will also ensure an individualised Pelvic Floor exercise routine is created too.

Learning where your pelvic floor are, how they contract AND how they relax may aid in a better birthing experience due to improved body awareness. A recent study has shown a structured (and correct) pelvic floor muscle strengthening program during pregnancy can decrease urinary incontinence in 2nd/3rd trimester and in postnatal period which is another reason why seeing your pelvic health Physio when pregnant.

A Pelvic Health Assessment can be completed at any point in pregnancy but we recommend getting in sooner rather than later to ensure you’re set up for the best pregnancy and birth journey possible.

Postnatal -

While at your 6 week check with your doctor you may be given the all clear and sent on your way, it is so important, whether you birthed vaginally or via caesarean section to complete a Physio pelvic health assessment prior to returning to exercise after birth.

Pelvic floor muscles don’t just ‘bounce back’ on their own after birth, they require retraining (irrelevant of mode of birth, as they get stretched during the course of pregnancy carrying the weight of the baby/placenta/amniotic fluid). 50% of women who have had a vaginal delivery will experience some degree of pelvic organ prolapse.

It is also important to get guidance on returning to exercise safely taking into account the individual’s particular pregnancy and birth journey.

There are many benefits of returning to exercise postnatally – improved physical health, improved mental health, improved sleep and “me time” are just a few.

Safe Prenatal & Postnatal Exercise with a Physio

To ensure safe return to higher impact exercise options – research has shown assessment measures that can be taken during thorough pelvic health assessment can help to identify those at risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction and therefore allow intervention/rehabilitation prior to return to exercise options that may otherwise cause further dysfunction/damage to the area.

Exercise in the postnatal period has also been shown to help in the treatment of postnatal depression, potentially decreasing its rates of occurrence (PND effects 16% of new mothers in Aus).

A postnatal Pelvic Health assessment is recommended from 6 weeks post partum before returning to exercise.

Are you expecting or just given birth?


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