Starting A Family & Your Pelvic Floor

Pelvic floor knowledge is overlooked or ignored until it is too late.  As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. 

And we believe that prevention starts with all women having certain knowledge from as early as possible. 

Starting a family entails challenges and decisions that could be physically, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling or devastating. The euphoria of pregnancy, the ecstatic feeling of creating a human who would later call you mama, the joy of cradling a newborn, and the unending complex emotion that follows. Don’t forget the joy of shopping for those cute onesies, your maternity clothes, and adorable baby stuff that may make you shriek with joy.

In this post, we focus on women who are dreaming about starting a family but don’t want to be stuck with pelvic floor issues post-pregnancy.  In short, how do you make sure your pelvic health is as good as it can be as you dream about this wonderful new phase.  

Starting a Family Checklist

When is the right time to start a family, and how do you know if you’re ready, to begin with? We will never know, but you may want to add and consider some of the things when planning.

1. Financial Capability

In the United States, the average vaginal delivery costs $5,000 – $11,000, including your hospital care, OB’s fee, anesthesiologist’s fee, and so on. CS delivery costs double, and how about insurance? Baby essentials like diapers, milk, toiletries, and don’t forget the money you will spend on school or university.

2. Responsibility

Having a baby entails responsibilities such as providing them their basic needs like a safe home, food, shelter, and more. As per research, providing a healthy environment for your kid will foster respect, self-confidence, and trust as they grow. 

3. Co-parent Relationship

Either you’re on this alone, or with a partner, we’re rooting for you. Is your partner physically, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to be with you throughout?

4. Support System

Aside from your partner, is there anyone else supporting you on this magical journey?  It takes a village to raise a child, they say. If you are on this alone, you are not alone; WomenCycles is here for you.

5. Physical Health

Most importantly, is your body ready for bringing out life in this world? The female reproductive cycle has done its job in securing your pregnancy. Your physical health is imperative in overcoming common challenges. The growing fetus will produce anatomic and physiological changes in your organs.

Changes During Pregnancy

In the United States, secondary school teaches sex education in two main forms: comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only sex education. Comprehensive sex tackles details about the human sex cycle while abstinence-only sex education focuses on abstinence-centered, abstinence-only-until-marriage, sexual risk avoidance, and youth empowerment. 

In most parts of Europe, sexuality education is mandatory except for some countries. Other Asian and African countries don’t have this and are only made aware of the pregnancy cycle only when they become pregnant. 

Let’s discuss the common changes during pregnancy.

Cardiovascular

The cardiovascular system will work hand in hand with your fetus in producing blood-borne oxygen and nutrients. At the latter part of gestation, the large uterus may raise or change the heart’s position.

Respiratory

Your respiratory organ will work harder to increase oxygen for the mother’s tissue and growing fetus. More blood is needed to carry oxygen needed by both fetal and maternal tissues, and this is why you need your iron either by getting it from iron-rich food or natural supplements. 

Skin

Your skin will increase the secretion of oil and sweat glands. Stretch marks may appear on the abdomen, breast, and other parts of your body.

The fetus will increase pressure in your abdominal cavity and push the abdominal and pelvic organs out of their usual place, thus increasing more pressure on their neighboring organs.

Your body will undergo so many changes. Some may have underlying conditions before pregnancy. Others may have excellent genes or are health conscious and are ready for these bodily changes. Now, how do you know if your pelvic floor is healthy and why it’s important before pregnancy?

Your Pelvic Floor Health

Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles found in the base of your pelvis. The muscles act as a foundation in keeping everything in place, such as your bladder in holding your urine, the uterus and vagina, and the rectum where your body stores solid waste. 

Most of your organs will adapt to pre and post-pregnancy changes, but how about your pelvic floor? 

Pregnancy and Culture

Unfortunately, most cultures do not support the process of becoming a mother these days. In Asia, women are encouraged to rest throughout confinement, which may take up to 40 days. Most are only allowed to bathe 4 days after childbirth, and even brushing teeth should be done by a relative or helper to prevent straining. Imagine the feeling of uneasiness on your pelvic floor. Then, when we talk about nutrition, Asian women are advised not to eat anything fishy, sour, and spicy. In Latin America, moms observe quarantine from sex, physical activities, and spicy food 40 days before delivery. Some cultures also prohibit women from eating dark-colored foods for fear of having a baby with dark marks. Some also are advised to stay in bed days before labor or delivery. Even with cultural differences, your lifestyle choices during and after childbirth will affect your pelvic health. 

Pelvic Floor Complications

Aside from the neighborly clash on your pelvic organ during pregnancy, gravity will strain your pelvic floor, weakening its muscles during labor and childbirth, which should relax your pelvic muscles. After childbirth, your pelvic muscle should regain its memory and strength and go back to normal. Failure to do so will result in problems, complications, or pelvic floor dysfunction.

  • Strenuous Labor. You would need to exert more energy or effort during labor
  • Perineal Laceration. Vaginal tears are an injury to the tissue around your vagina and rectum during childbirth
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Pulling off any of the pelvic floor organs, including Bladder, Uterus, Vagina, Small bowel, and Rectum
  • Diastasis Recti. Partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominal muscles 
  • Interstitial Cystitis. A chronic condition causing bladder pressure, bladder and pelvic pain
  • Hypertonic Pelvic Floor. This occurs when the muscles in the pelvic floor become too relaxed and are unable to relax. 
  • Weak Pelvic Floor
  • Hemorrhoids. Swollen veins in the lowest part of your rectum and anus
  • Fecal Incontinence. The inability to control your bowel movements causing the stool to leak unexpectedly from the rectum
  • Urinary Incontinence. The involuntary leakage of urine.

Pelvic Floor on Your Physical Health

You will shed a tear or so knowing that you created life, and you can now go home, nurture your baby and savor every moment with her or him. You have dodged the bullet of pregnancy complications and would now focus on your newborn. Remember, your journey with pelvic floor health is never-ending, and you should continuously care for it.

Let’s tackle specific pelvic floor issues and their effect on your daily activities pre and post-pregnancy.

Urinary and Bladder Incontinence

Urinary and bladder incontinence will alter your normal activities. When lifting your baby, bending to reach that dropped bottle, or even by just coughing, you may unexpectedly pass urine or stool. Bed-wetting is also possible, and instead of getting much sleep and focusing your energy on your newborn, you would have to change your underwear and sheets. Most don’t get sufficient sleep even after a year; let’s agree to that. We all know how important sleep is because it can commence a domino effect on your hormones, thus aggravating your physical and emotional stress.  

Sexual Intercourse

In a healthy pregnancy, intercourse is safe throughout all 9 months. Sex won’t harm the baby, who is protected by your abdomen, the uterus’s muscular walls, and cushioned by the amniotic sac’s fluid. You and your partner may decide to refrain from sexual intercourse in the third trimester just because you’re uncomfortable or due to health issues. After childbirth, most women, on average, stop bleeding after 6 weeks, and healthcare professionals strongly advise refraining from sex to avoid complications. Once that moment comes, which should fill you with excitement after the waiting period, but you failed to reach your orgasm, and this never happened usually. Painful sex has many reasons, and this may be due to the weakening of your pelvic muscle tissues resulting in reduced sensitivity. Left untreated, this will put a strain on your relationship with yourself and your partner.

Back Pain

Developing back pain during pre and postpartum pregnancy is also common in women with an unhealthy pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor muscles are too weak or too tight, the lower back muscles will not get the proper amount of support it needs. Mothers who have smaller kids find it difficult to carry their smaller kids or lift things. Your pelvic muscle helps improve your core function and supports your spine. 

Some women resort to expensive medical treatments for their pelvic floor dysfunction. It will involve more physical, emotional, and spiritual stress, but the key to preventing all these from happening is to have a healthy pelvic floor. We can’t stress enough the importance of your pelvic floor health in recovering from pregnancy and its long-term effect on your life even after menopause.

Pelvic Floor on Your Mental Health

10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who give the birth experience a mental disorder. This data also may vary due to the lack of statistics on other countries that perceive depression on mothers as taboo. 

Low libido

Your hormones will be all over the place, and your low estrogen levels will dry your vaginal wall; this is completely normal, and experts advise that it will be better after a few months. The question is, what if, after a few months, your libido is still as dry as the Sahara desert? This will be problematic for you and your partner. This adds emotional stress and may add more to your anxiety. Your partner may also feel unattended or may not understand where you’re coming from. One of the causes is your pelvic floor health. Your sensation has decreased due to the weakening of the muscle. If your pelvic floor is as healthy as a bull, not even the divine water can destroy it.

Fatigue

Lack of energy after childbirth is normal. Being sleep deprived because of taking care of your newborn, your physical healing from childbirth, producing breast milk while taking care of important chores, and more will physically drain you. A mother’s body is designed to cope with a newborn, but irritability and lack of motivation will drain your energy faster than sleep-deprived. Your body needs all the energy it can get, and pelvic floor issues will do more harm than good.

Fear, Anxiety, and Depression

Fear relates to a known threat, whilst anxiety is unknown. Depression and anxiety share the same biological structure but are different in many ways. Anxiety symptoms include excessive worry, irritability, trouble concentrating, being easily fatigued, sleep disturbance, and restlessness. Depression, on the other hand, includes lack of interest in cradling your baby, insomnia even with fatigue, feelings of guilt if you’re a fit mother, and even suicidal thoughts or harming your baby. 

Self-doubt  

You may doubt yourself on why you agree or plan to do this in the first place. It happens to all of us. Find your inner peace, light those candles your saving, go to the shower, and embrace the drops caressing your soul. After securing your baby and finding her asleep, prepare yourself for vaginal steaming for the pelvic floor. Close your eyes, meditate, and this will help you not with just your pelvic healing but with your emotional healing.

 

Are you ready?

After reading this, you will have to prepare many things or maybe go with the flow. No matter what your decision is, the most important thing is your happiness. Let’s be optimistic, work hand in hand, and plan to prevent possible predicaments. To know more about Pelvic Floor, WomenCycles have courses that will enlighten your physical, mental, and spiritual knowledge. Courses about preventions, pelvic floor exercises like yoga for pregnancy, yoga breathing techniques for labor, and many holistic solutions created by women for women and a mission to empower and not be judged. 

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