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Postpartum Pelvic Floor Exercises To Reduce Incontinence

Published by Sagar Luthra
Postpartum Pelvic Floor Exercises To Reduce Incontinence

Childbirth is a significant event in life, but it can also bring about changes in the body. One common issue that many new mothers face is postnatal incontinence, which can affect daily life and confidence. In this article, we’ll go through exercises, routines and practices which will help you regain strength and confidence for a more active postpartum life.

Understanding Postpartum Incontinence

After giving birth, the body undergoes various changes, some subtle and manageable, others more pronounced. Many women experience a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, leading to postnatal incontinence. This condition can be challenging, especially when trying to return to regular exercise routines or daily activities. Even if you have had a reasonably smooth delivery, you may have strained your pelvic floor muscles through the pregnancy and birthing process.


Postpartum incontinence often occurs because the pelvic floor muscles were stretched and weakened during pregnancy and, in some cases, damaged during childbirth. This can result in bladder or bowel leakage when coughing, sneezing, or moving quickly. To address this issue and regain control, it's helpful to exercise and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

Starting Your Postpartum Pelvic Floor Exercise Routine

In the initial weeks after childbirth, it's important not to overexert yourself with extensive exercise programs. Your body needs time to heal and recover. During this period, focus on reducing swelling, increasing blood flow to the area, and reconnecting with your pelvic floor muscles.


Some simple tips to get you started:

  • Relaxation: Take moments throughout the day to sit or lie down, releasing tension around the bladder and bowel openings. This will help you relax and prepare for exercises.
  • Pulsing Exercises: While relaxed, gently pulse your pelvic floor muscles to promote blood flow, reduce stiffness, and re-establish the mind-muscle connection. You can incorporate this into your daily routine, such as during feeding sessions.
  • Structured Exercises: As you begin to feel less sore, progress to more structured exercises. You can find instructional videos and downloadable leaflets with guidance on pelvic floor and abdominal exercises online, often provided by reputable sources like the charity POGP.
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises: Aim to perform "fast" and "slow holding" pelvic floor exercises for ten repetitions each, three times a day.
  • Abdominal Exercises: Dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to focus on connecting with your abdominal muscles.

Light Exercises for Home

Starting with gentle exercises at home can help you rebuild core strength and gradually increase activity. Here are some light exercises to consider:

  • Bridging: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Engage your abdominals and pelvic floor, then lift your hips off the ground. Hold for 2-3 slow breaths and lower slowly. Repeat ten times.
  • Knee Folds: Start in the same position as bridging. Engage your core and imagine balancing a glass of water on your abdomen. Lift one knee at a time while keeping the water level steady. Imagine climbing stairs as you switch legs.
  • Double Knee Folds: Once single knee folds become easy, challenge yourself by lifting one leg and then the other while maintaining abdominal and pelvic floor control.
  • Squats: Squats are excellent for toning your bottom and engaging your core. Focus on your core as you perform squats to activate abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Sit to Stand: Practice getting up and down from a chair slowly, engaging your abs and pelvic floor muscles. As you progress, you can even hold your baby while doing these exercises but be cautious of abdominal bulging or pressure on the bladder area.

Choosing the Right Clothing

While working on your postpartum exercises, it's helpful to wear supportive clothing. Here are some recommendations to make your exercises more comfortable:

  • Supportive Undergarments: Choose proper supportive underwear with low or wide waistbands or opt for a feeding vest with a tummy support panel.
  • Thick Tights: In colder weather, wear thick tights for added support.
  • Close-Fitting Sportswear: Select sports clothing made from firm, close-fitting materials like leggings or supportive trousers to maintain good posture and keep your core engaged.

Additionally, you can use TENA liners designed for catching and containing liquid to boost your confidence while working on your pelvic floor. These liners use advanced technology to ensure comfort, discretion, and odour control.

Gradual Progression

As you gain more confidence and your body heals, you can gradually increase the intensity and variety of your pelvic floor strengthening exercises. Here's how to progress safely:

  • Focus on Core Exercises: Start with core exercises where your goal is to keep your body still, engaging your transversus abdominis, obliques, and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Add Leg or Arm Movements: Once your core is engaged, incorporate leg or arm movements into your routine, such as leg stretches, hip twists, or table-top exercises.
  • Increase Weight and Intensity: If you're using gym equipment, gradually increase the weight and intensity of your workouts while monitoring your abdominal muscles to prevent bulging.
  • Mind-Body Connection: Don't forget the importance of the mind-body connection. Practice relaxation techniques, gentle yoga or Pilates stretches to maintain mental and physical harmony.

Seeking Professional Help

If you feel that your pelvic floor exercises are not effectively addressing your incontinence issues, it's essential to seek professional help. A specialist pelvic floor physiotherapist can provide a thorough assessment of your muscles and guide you on the best approach for your specific needs. They can also help you address any muscle tightness or spasm and recommend advanced techniques or biofeedback kits if necessary. Don't hesitate to consult your GP for a referral to a specialist if needed.

Overcoming Self-Consciousness

It's natural to feel self-conscious about exercising after giving birth, especially when dealing with incontinence. Here are some tips to help you overcome those feelings:

  • Consult a Specialist: If you're uncertain about your pelvic floor function, consult a GP or specialist physiotherapist for a proper assessment.
  • Confidence Through Exercise: Use exercises as a means to regain your confidence. Consistent practice will not only improve your physical condition but also boost your self-esteem.
  • Supportive Community: Seek the support of friends, family, or exercise buddies to stay motivated and accountable in your fitness journey.
  • Mindfulness: Embrace mindfulness and relaxation techniques to align your body and mind, helping you stay focused on your health and well-being.

Remember, regaining your strength and confidence through postpartum exercises is a journey that requires patience and dedication. Start slowly, progress at your own pace, and don't hesitate to seek professional guidance when needed. With the right exercises, support, and mindset, you can regain your confidence and strength.