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Posted May 17 2011 12:00am
Of all the desires that women have about pregnancy and childbirth, preventing pelvic floor dysfunction always ranks high on the lists. The stress of pregnancy, labor, and delivery on the structures which make up the pelvic floor is significant – putting a woman at risk for damage that could affect her for years to come. Luckily, with proper care and precautions, in most cases pelvic floor dysfunction can be minimized or avoided.
  1. Visit a Physical Therapist that Specializes in Pelvic Health  Most women are unaware that there are pelvic floor physical therapists who specialize in helping women during their pregnancy to prevent this type of pregnancy/birth injury. The benefits of visiting this type of therapist during pregnancy and before labor begins is that the therapist can help identify a woman's risk for damage, help strengthen the pelvic floor and prepare for childbirth, a be a communicating member of the childbirth team.
  2. Practice Your Kegal Exercises Pelvic floor exercises, known as “Kegals” after the doctor who invented them, are a wonderful way to help strengthen your muscles for pregnancy and childbirth. There are several different ways that these types of exercises can be performed. Some women choose to use a “kegal exerciser” or “pelvic toning device” which is piece of equipment designed to assist a woman with these exercises. However, the simplest and most inexpensive way to perform Kegals is through a set of exercises and movements performed with the vagina that target the pubococcygeus muscles. is All women should consult with a qualified health care provider, or pelvic flood physical therapists, before performing Kegal exercises, as they may not be safe for every women.
  3. Avoid Epidural Anesthesia While in labor, many women choose to receive epidural anesthesia for pain relief. However, because of the decreased sensation that occurs with epidurals, it tends to increases a woman's chance for an instrument-assisted delivery (vacuum or forceps) along with an episiotomy. These two interventions increase your risk for pelvic floor injury.
  4. Perineal Massage During Pregnancy and Labor Massage of the area between your vagina and anus, known as the perineum, during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy and during labor can help increase the elasticity of the area and prevent tearing or episiotomies. In some cases perineal tears can damage the rectal muscle which can cause pelvic floor dysfunction after birth.
  5. Avoid Coached Pushing Some studies show that “purple faced” pushing, also known as coached pushing, can increase your risk for damage to the pelvic floor. To avoid this follow your body's natural urge to push, let air out in the form of a grunt or moan while pushing, and take adequate rests as necessary.
For more ideas please talk with pelvic health physical therapists or your OBGYN.
New Study Hopes to Advance Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Treatment
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