Moms, do you ever have that happen? Laugh a little too much, sneeze, or get really crazy and jump on a trampoline- and leak a little (or a lot!) or urine. This is called stress urinary incontinence. Although it is very common it is not normal. You can tell how common it is if you watch a few TV ads. There are a plethora of medications and pads available to help you control the leaking. However, the culprit is typically weakening pelvic floor muscles. We may be sculpting our biceps and glutes, but our pelvic floor muscles frequently are ignored.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, frequently referred to as the Levator Ani, which forms a sling in the bottom of the pelvis. It functions to support the internal organs, particularly the uterus and bladder, and to assist with stopping the flow of urine. Performing “Kegels” or pelvic floor muscle contractions, can help. While it is difficult to prescribe the exact program that may work for you (this is not a one size fits all kind of thing) a generally good place to start would be this laying on your back with your knees bent and supported by a pillow. Pull up and in with the pelvic floor muscles, like you are trying to stop the flow of urine. (By the way- practicing this repeatedly on the toilet is NOT a good idea). Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, relax 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Now try to do 10 contractions as fast as you can. Be sure to relax completely between each contraction. It is very important that you are pulling up with the pelvic floor muscles and not pushing! You can place one finger on the perineal area while you contract. When you do the contraction correctly, this area should move up toward your head.
Like any fitness program, getting help from a professional can make the process much easier and improve your chances of being successful. A physical therapist trained in pelvic floor therapy can develop a program to help you reach your goals as well as determine if there are other complications that may need further evaluation.
*Photo credit Bits & Bytes