As we have said many times in the past, education is a form of healthcare. When it comes to your pelvic health, the better understanding you have of the physiology of the area and changes in pregnancy and childbirth, the more empowered you will feel! So today we are chatting with Aliya Dhalla, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, about the basic structure of the pelvic floor, the changes undergone during pregnancy, and how and when a physiotherapist can be useful - even with remote consultations which empower you with the tools and knowledge to understand and heal your own body!
As the name would suggest, the pelvic floor is literally the bottom of your pelvis, the bony structure that connects our legs to our spine. Imagine it like a hammock or a layer of tissue that sits on the bottom of that pelvis and is made up of three layers of muscles, connective tissue, nerves, fascia, and so on. The pelvic floor helps us do a lot of things that typically happen in our bodies without our conscious awareness, such as controlling the release of urine and poop, and supporting the organs that sit in our pelvis, such as our bladder and uterus. It is also part of our inner core unit, working with the deepest abdominal layer as well as some muscles in our back and diaphragm. It helps circulate lymph and fluid around the body, and last but not least it also plays a huge role in our sexual function and pleasure.
Most people may not be aware of what the pelvic floor is and what it does if things are functioning properly. But due to the many changes undergone during pregnancy, the shape of our pelvis and center of gravity begins to shift. As the weight of the growing baby pulls your body forward, you may end up tilting your pelvis forward into an anterior pelvic tilt, or backward into a posterior pelvic tilt, to accommodate the changes. Often we don’t notice these changes because they are gradual and subtle, but ultimately they can have a trickle down effect on the overall health of your body.
There are a few reasons you may choose to see a pelvic physio - if you are someone that is not experiencing much pain or any pelvic floor dysfunction, going in for a general check-in around the second trimester is a great idea. It gives you a good idea of what your baseline is - if you are someone who is more prone to tighter or looser pelvic floor muscles for example - which can better help you address any issues further down the road in pregnancy.
If you want to learn more about how to prepare your body for labor and birth, if you're hoping for a vaginal delivery, or you're the type of person that likes to be prepared for postpartum, you can definitely see a physio a number of times during your pregnancy. They can go over some ideal stretches or positions to put your body into during the last four weeks of pregnancy, and how to stretch or mobilize your perineum to minimize severe tears during a vaginal childbirth.
So regardless of your goal, it’s not a bad idea to see a pelvic physio somewhere in your second trimester, or more frequently if you are experiencing aches/pains, or want a more in-depth education for what to expect as your pregnancy and labour progresses.
In Aliya’s experience, virtual physiotherapy can be very effective and even offer some advantages compared to in person appointments! Advantages include:
Thank you for listening, and if you would like to book a consultation with Aliya - check-out her instagram or website!
Taking you from anxious and overwhelmed to confident during your childbirth experience: