ICYMI: Pelvic Floor 101 with Rachel Nicks

Instagram LIVE Recap:

Pregnancy, Postpartum Fitness, your Pelvic Floor…and so much more!

Rachel Nicks is a mother of two beautiful sons and is fiercely committed to her community. She is a doula, lactation consultant and Lululemon ambassador, and studio trainer. She is passionate about pelvic floor health and protecting pregnant bodies and founded Birth Queen, a non-profit dedicated to funding doulas, lactation consultants, and midwives of color, to create a resource Black women and birthing people can trust.

She recently joined us on Instagram to spread some knowledge about the pelvic floor. In Case You Missed It…read on for some key takeaways and exercises to maintain this important muscle group. (You can watch the full replay HERE.)

Purpose Of The Pelvic Floor 

Everyone has a pelvic floor and both men and women should begin the work to maintain the pelvic floor before there is an issue.

Your pelvic floor is a muscle group that lives within your pelvis. It has 3 layers, (Rachel suggests you think of it like a 3-layer hammock.) The top layer is the tightest, like a fresh new hammock, yet to feel the effects of gravity. Over time, all three layers are impacted by gravity and lifestyle and loosen.

Each layers health can impact function and when the pelvic floor is not working properly, conditions like incontinence (trouble with bladder control), prolapse (the dropping of the uterus or anus), pain or inability to perform during sex, and even inability to experience sexual pleasure can be the result.

“We can’t normalize incontinence or not feeling safe to laugh, sneeze, cough or jump,” Rachel shared passionately.

Proper Pelvic Floor Engagement 

Rachel says Kegel exercises are so important! And like all exercises, form, and breath work is key.

Many of us are doing Kegels but we aren’t always doing them the right way. Breathing is a crucial piece of your pelvic floor work. You are meant to exhale on the exertion or tightening of the muscles, and inhale on the relaxation or release of the muscles.

Many of us are exhaling and pushing down, releasing the hold as we exhale when instead, the effort should be when you exert or pull up and tighten your muscles.

“When you lift your pelvic floor, you’re exertion, effort, and exhalation is defying gravity. Lift and close, lower and relax.”

Pregnancy and Postpartum Pelvic Floor Fitness

During pregnancy and postpartum, your pelvic floor is working extra hard. Rachel shared some specific ways to safely work your muscles and prepare for postpartum and a healthy life beyond.

All of these exercises focus on both strengthening and relaxing the pelvic floor – proper function require your ability to do both effectively.

Don’t forget:

Lift and Close: Exhale

Lower and Relax: Inhale

Rachel’s recommendations:

  1. Simple Engagement/Relaxation: This is a vaginal and anal Kegel. Simply engage and exhale, relax and inhale. Do this 5 to 10 times, taking your time to feel all three layers, hold, and relax all three layers.
  2. Engagement and Hold: Exhale and engage, hold for 5 seconds, then fully relax on the inhale, breathe and rest. Try to hold the exhale for 10 seconds. Do this 5-10 times.
  3. Sprints: Exhale and engage, inhale and relax – up down, up down, repeatedly. Go at your own pace. Do this 20 times. This one should be slow at first but as you get your form, breath, and technique down, challenge yourself to speed up!
  4. Elevator: Imagine your pelvis moving up like an elevator, hold and lift up one, two, three floors, and then down three, two, and one floors. Do this 5-10 times and take your time.

4 Positions to try:

  1. Seated high on your sit bones with a neutral pelvis
  2. Kneeling on two yoga blocks
  3. Squat
  4. Cat/Cow

Pelvic Floor Health Matters for All of Us

Everyone’s pelvic floor is impacted by the load it bears throughout our lives and its health is directly related to bladder, bowel, and uterus function, as well as sexual function and pleasure. It is never too late to start working on both strengthening and relaxing this muscle group.

Watch the whole conversation @maehealthinc and find more resources to support your physical and mental pregnancy health at Mae. Track your pregnancy, connect with community, and match with a doula.

Learn more about Birth Queen and Rachel Nicks. She is striving to address maternal health inequities, empower women and instill confidence in how we approach our motherhood journey.

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