It’s true that pregnancy and childbirth can bring about some major physical changes yet the focus is often on external ones, yes, we are talking about that growing bump. However, one of the biggest pregnancy and childbirth changes impacts an area that’s impossible to see from the outside; the pelvic floor.
In general, women don’t often talk about their pelvic floor or categorise it as part of the postnatal recovery process, even though it is a big part of your recovery so warrants a little TLC...
We've teamed up with the experts at Elvie to shed some light on why pelvic floor exercises are super important and reveal some of the handy gadgets on the market such as the Elvie Trainer. Plus, with up to 25% off the Elvie Trainer until 8th February, read on to discover why this little device is improving pelvic floors worldwide.
What is your pelvic floor?
Firstly, let's start with basics - what is your pelvic floor? In a nutshell, the pelvic floor is essentially a group of muscles that support the structure for the intra-abdominal organs. Basically, that means your internal muscles of your pelvic floor act like a hammock to support organs such as the uterus, bladder and rectum.
If something goes wrong with your pelvic floor, it can mess with your ability to go to the loo normally, with your sex life and with your general function in that region. A little pee when you laugh? This is most likely a result of a weak pelvic floor.
Elvie's expert advice
Pelvic floor exercises are one of the best ways to prevent weakened or damaged pelvic muscles that can lead to some (slightly embarrassing) incidences such as incontinence and even, involuntary wind. If you want to find out if your pelvic floor needs some improvement, try stopping yourself from peeing midstream. This muscle movement is what you need to master (try not to keep doing it while you're peeing as you may not empty your bladder fully). Instead, when exercising, remember to:
- Make sure your stomach, buttocks and thighs remain relaxed and try not to hold your breath.
- Take a deep breath to relax and as you breathe out squeeze your pelvic floor inwards and upwards.
- Exercise in a comfortable position such as standing with your legs shoulder width apart or lying down with your knees bent. Lying down is often easier for beginners.
Pelvic floor exercises are super easy to get the hang of, the best part of it all is you can even exercise your pelvic floor whilst you are watching the TV or even reading this blog!
How does pregnancy affect your pelvic floor?
Being pregnant and labour can have an effect on your pelvic floor. The muscles can be loosened and the connective tissues such a ligaments can weaken. Hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and one literally called relaxin are all released during pregnancy. These hormones help the body prepare for labour by loosening these muscles to eventually allow the baby to pass through the birth canal more easily.
It sort of goes without saying that giving birth will also affect these muscles. In the process of childbirth, the baby’s head will pass through the vagina meaning pelvic floor muscles get moved out of the way and sometimes tear. While doctors can usually repair these lacerations with surgery when necessary, it will take some time for your pelvic floor to recover. For some, it might forever be a little different.
Are pelvic floor issues common?
The short answer is, they are very common! It is reported pelvic floor issues affect 1 in 3 women and up to 70% of new and expectant mums. Part of this is because a weak pelvic floor can be the result of a full range of factors outside of childbirth, such as weight gain, high-impact sport and ageing.
Meet the Elvie Trainer!
Well, enough of the doom and gloom, the good news is there are many things you can do to help repair and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This is where the Elvie Trainer comes in! Elvie designed the Elvie trainer to make pelvic floor training fun, challenging and motivating so that you get the most out of the exercises and stay motivated.
The small, sleek device is inserted like a tampon and connects to an app on your smartphone, which visualises your pelvic floor movements in real time and guides you through exercises designed by pelvic floor specialists to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor, this is known as biofeedback technology.
The Elvie Trainer is a smart Kegel trainer that uses a patented system of force and motion sensors to measure pelvic floor contractions. The technology of the Elvie was previously only available in hospitals, but now is available for women everywhere to benefit from biofeedback technology.
"Fancy" I hear you say. Well, there are a few key - but not so glamorous - improvements to using Kegel Trainers like the Elvie. They can help you take control of your bladder and bowel after your baby's birth as well as improving blood flow to help reduce any swelling and bruising you may have.
Proven by science
The benefits of the Elvie Trainer aren't unfounded either. Many expert scientists at well-known research facilities have proven that Kegel exercises can improve incontinence, support bladder control during pregnancy, speed up postnatal recovery and reduce the risk of prolapse.
Multiple studies show that giving women real-time biofeedback is one of the most effective methods of doing Kegel exercises. Elvie Trainer measures force directly, offering a significant advantage over existing products that rely on air pressure technology.
Better in the bedroom
When it comes to sex, the Elvie Trainer can even build muscle strength, increase sensation and boost blood flow to the vagina, which in turn helps you to experience stronger orgasms. In the first few weeks it might feel like nothing is happening but inside you're working miracles. So whether you're looking to sort your symptoms, avoid issues down the line or for more control and stronger orgasms during sex, you’ll be glad you did your Kegels.
How does the Elvie Trainer work?
It works by connecting the Elvie Trainer to an app which provides real-time visual feedback. This allows you to see whether you are exercising correctly, as well as how strongly you are squeezing. The trainer detects and warns you if you are exercising incorrectly, as many incorrectly push rather than pull up their muscles when carrying out pelvic floor exercises, damaging the pelvic floor in the long term. The results from your workouts are then saved so you can measure your improvement, track your progress and stay motivated to beat your personal best.
Why we love Elvie
Here at Natural Baby Shower, we have several mums on the team who have openly discussed how important doing your Kegels are with those that have not yet given birth!
The Elvie Trainer offers unique (even fun!) 5-minute exercises that can be done anywhere by combining smart technology in light of women's wellbeing. It's great that us ladies can continue to speak candidly about the female form thanks to Elvie's pioneering Kegel trainer.
For best results, the NHS advises that you repeat your exercises three times a day. Try to aim for three sets of five repetitions daily, gradually working up to 10 second contractions.
Still not sure? Watch this...