This post is sponsored by Summer’s Eve®. Hey — Valentine’s Day is coming up and maybe you’re planning a romantic evening with someone special? Or, perhaps you just want to be at your best for a Galentine’s Day celebration! Either way, tuck some Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths in your purse or pocket so you can feel confident and fresh through the night!
About a quarter mile before the finishing chute at a recent half marathon, a very sweet family stood holding signs and cheering runners on.
One of the signs said,
“smile and wave if you peed yourself a little in the last 13 miles”
and BOY did my cheeks and arms hurt from grinning and waving.
It is not a sexy thing to talk about in public, but when I’m with friends and we’re lamenting the things nobody told us about what happens as we get older and after having babies, you can bet a weak pelvic floor is at the top of the list (welcome to a world where you will cross your fingers every time you sneeze or laugh).
And it really is a common thing. As many as 50% of women can have some experience with it and 10-20 percent of women report having leakage that they consider “socially bothersome.”
(See here for more on the sources.)
I’m in that 10-20% and that’s why I have been so open about working with my partners at Summer’s Eve®. I keep their Cleansing Cloths in my purse, gym bag and even tucked a few into the bag I checked at the recent half marathon (so I could freshen up after finishing the course, before the long and painful walk back to the car).
Plus, with Valentine’s Day approaching, I imagine you have some plans where being fresh and clean is especially important (wink, wink, nod, nod). These Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths come in these cute little wrappers that tuck easily into a purse or pocket and you can sneak off to…freshen up…before getting back to what you were doing.
So, let’s talk about it, huh?
Pregnancy and childbirth can make the muscles and connective tissue of the pelvic floor weaker, and it often gets worse with each pregnancy (and also depends on how your labor goes, whether there are any complications with birth, how active you were before and after having babies and unfortunately, your own genetic makeup!).
- urinary incontinence or other urinary tract issues
- sexual dysfunction (discomfort, pain or even the inability to have sex at all)
- organ prolapse
- chronic pain
The pelvic floor is just a term for a group of muscles and ligaments — they support (although this is not an exhaustive list) the bladder, uterus and bowel. And while we often associate it with pregnancy, the pelvic floor is actually involved in a lot more (including your core stabilization and standing tall!).
And because it’s a muscle group, we can train it, just as we try to improve upper and lower body strength or power and overall core strength.
Here are a few ways to work on strengthening your pelvic floor:
I did kegels every single night when I was pregnant with Audrey, in hopes I could ward off any issues. It didn’t happen but I imagine my issues would have been much worse had I not taken the time! (And yes, kegels have an added benefit of enhancing sexual pleasure…or so they say.)
Kegel exercises are actually quite easy, with some practice. Plus, you can do them while watching TV, waiting for dinner to cook, while pacing on a conference call or just about anywhere, anytime (nobody will know!).
I also think it’s really helpful to practice finding the right muscles. The next time you sit down to go to the bathroom, try to stop mid-stream. The muscles you engaged to stop urination are the ones you want to try to train.
Core Stabilization and Strength Moves.
I really like the Dead Bug crunch for targeting the core, with a focus on the pelvic floor. Lauren at The Bikini Experiment has a great tutorial with form cues and some trainer tips.
Pelvic tilts are also exercises that are generally appropriate even fairly soon after giving birth (but please please please check with your healthcare provider!). I actually found them fun to do while resting a baby against my bent legs and gently raising her toward the sky!
Prevention.com has four poses that can be effective for helping strengthen your pelvic floor muscles — and hey, if they don’t, at least you will feel a little more zen, right? I love practicing yoga with my girls, and Malasana, which involves crouching or squatting down, is one that we do together while pretending we’re a family of frogs.
Now, there are experts who say this only works if you are able to fully isolate the muscles, which can be challenging. Katy Bowman has some of my favorite posts on the subject and this podcast episode is all about incontinence.
Here’s the thing, though. Even with these exercises, you may still have some leakage after having babies. Thankfully, they’re worth it, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with feeling…unfresh.
Check out the Summer’s Eve® product line. The Cleansing Cloths are so easy to keep handy and nobody knows you’re bringing them into the bathroom. And the Cleansing Wash is designed to be safe for use on all of your body parts (I like the Simply Sensitive version). The washes are soap-free, clinically tested by gynecologists and lightly fragranced.
So remember, if peeing your pants is cool — join the Miles Davis club.