By Sophia McLean – PT, DPT
Pregnancy can be an exciting, scary, beautiful, and/or strange season of life. Many important and often challenging physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual changes occur during this time, as well as afterward. One facet of physical changes involves your pelvic floor muscles, a group of muscles at the bottom of your pelvis that contribute to bladder and bowel control, sexual and reproductive function, and pain-free movement.
In fact, quite a bit changes for this part of your body, and we want you to have as many tools in your “birth tool bucket” as possible when it comes to pelvic floor health during the pregnancy, labour, and postpartum periods. Birth isn’t something that happens to you as a passive participant; it is something you can step into and out of with agency as an active participant.
The first thing to point out is the “changes” that occur during pregnancy are more aptly regarded as adaptations. Pregnancy is not a condition or dysfunction, rather it is a process your body can adapt to, often quite remarkably! That said, some adaptations can contribute to negative physical symptoms in some people. While you might often understand relaxin (the hormone that softens ligaments), a weak core, or genetics to be culprits for any issues you experience, the reason for negative symptoms is often more complex than that, since a whole dynamic system is adapting!
If you think of your pelvic floor muscles as a trampoline spanning the base of your pelvis–extending from pubic bone to tailbone and sitz bone to sitz