February 01, 2017

The Pelvis, Pelvic Floor, and Relaxin - Evolving Training of a Woman’s Power Center During Pregnancy and Postpartum - 3 of 3


healthy pelvic floor from moms and pregnant women

Pelvic Floor Health for Moms

Relaxin, the hormone responsible for ligament relaxation, causes the joints to become more mobile for birth to happen. So with increased weight and change of gravity, the pubic symphysis and SI joint of the pelvis can become irritated.

During pregnancy, these two issues are common and will most likely completely disappear immediately postpartum. If these do arise, substitute movements to avoid further irritation and encourage ache-reducing movements.

For SI Joint discomfort:

  • Substitute lunges with squats
  • Prescribe posterior chain work like glute bridges, RDLs, deadlifts
  • Prescribe mini-band for strengthening adductor/abductor work
  • Encourage posterior tilting when standing for long periods of time

For Pubic Symphysis discomfort:

  • Substitute squats for lunges
  • Prescribe mini-band for strengthening abductor work
  • Encourage squeezing of a squishy/inflated ball between knees while sitting or lying to gently engage pelvic floor muscles and adductors to counter relaxing joints.  

Postpartum, you need to be aware that Relaxin is still present in a mom’s body up to a year or longer. This means ligaments are still loose and joints are vulnerable. The pelvic floor has been stressed from pregnancy and stretched in a vaginal delivery. Because of these things, a woman should perform pelvic floor contractions (where she pretends to stop the flow of urine) followed by complete relaxation, multiple times per day during pregnancy and immediately postpartum. Building this mind-body connection, control, and strength is very important!

If a woman’s pelvic floor is not strong, balanced, and functional, it leads to issues such as urinary incontinence, uterine or anal prolapse. All of these issues are shown to be reduced when a woman properly braces and breathes (like we talked about with the core) and engages pelvic floor. So, if you want to help your female clients lift heavier or increase efficiency, you need to teach and encourage the use of proper breath, core, pelvic floor synergy:

  1. Before movement: Inhale to fill core canister (deep transverse) creating stability and brace.
  2. Perform movement by exhaling and continued core bracing.
  3. At end of exhale, perform pelvic floor contraction.
  4. Repeat for each repetition

For women in their 3rd trimester and new moms, substitute plyometric (jumping) and bouncing movements (running, jump ropes) with single leg or upper body aerobic exercises (battling ropes, kettlebell swings) to alleviate stress on their pelvic floor and discomfort in chest and stomach.

Consult a physician before performing this or any exercise program. You as the user are responsible independently for use of any fitness programs or equipment and assume the risks of any resulting injury.