Antenatal Education: Your pelvic floor and why it’s so important   

The pelvic floor is one of the most talked about muscles during pregnancy, but do we really know what it is, where it is and why it’s important?

In this next blog, I take you on a whistle stop tour of the pelvic floor, sharing some simple exercises you can do at home to help strengthen one of your bodies most important muscles.

The pelvic floor – what it is, where it is and what it does


Midwives and health care professionals all talk about it, but do you actually know where it is and what it does?


The pelvic floor is a layer of muscle made up of fast and slow twitch muscles, that lie underneath the pelvis. Its main role is to support the pelvic organs and to control the outlet of the anus, vagina and urethra. These muscles naturally weaken as we get older, but during pregnancy they also come under additional strain as they have to support the increasing weight of the contents of the womb, including the growing baby, placenta and amniotic fluids.


You can think of the pelvic floor as the base of a cylinder of muscles that are all connected, supporting your body and helping to carry your baby. The pelvic floor is the lowest part of the cylinder, with the diaphragm at the top then the core in the lower abdomen and the back.


All of these muscles are connected and work together to support your body. When these muscles are weak or under additional load, such as when we are pregnant, we can experience discomfort in the pelvis or lower back. This is why women are encouraged to practise pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the whole area and help them during childbirth.

Why pregnant women need to strengthen the pelvic floor


It is important to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy to look after the long-term health of these muscles. The pelvic floor comes under additional strain when we are pregnant and is at high risk of damage during childbirth. The problem with a weakened or injured pelvic floor is it can result in stress-induced incontinence or a pelvic floor disorder.




The three main types of pelvic floor disorders are:

  • Urinary incontinence or lack of bladder control
  • Faecal incontinence or lack of bowel control
  • Pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the uterus, bladder and bowel may “drop” onto the vagina and cause a bulge through the vaginal canal.


People with pelvic floor disorders may experience:

  • Urinary problems, such as an urgent need to urinate, painful urination or incomplete emptying of their bladder
  • Constipation, straining or pain during bowel movements
  • Pain or pressure in the vagina or rectum
  • A heavy feeling in the pelvis or a bulge in the vagina or rectum
  • Muscle spasms in the pelvis


The good news is, you can easily do something about it. By having an awareness of these important muscles, how to locate them, strengthen them and release them, we can protect them and prevent injury. You can easily fit this into your daily routine, watching TV, taking a bath or out for a walk.


How to locate your pelvic floor


To help find and feel these muscles it is best to take the downwards pressure off the pelvic floor. Use a position that allows you to rest forwards with your knees wide and head supported. You could bring your shoulders lower than your hips or arrange yourself in a supported child pose. If these make you feel nauseous or uncomfortable, then sit astride a chair with the pelvis tilting forwards. Find a position that suits you best, which may be different each time or as your pregnancy develops.

Example positions:



Simple, light exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor

There are a few quick and easy exercises you can do at home to locate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.


At first, these exercises might feel difficult or it might feel as though all the muscles and area are moving together and not in turn. As you get stronger and more aware, trying different positions, you will find these get easier to do and you can hold them for longer.


When doing pelvic floor exercises there should be no external body movement, it should all be internal, so your keep buttocks /glutes relaxed. Never hold your breath in pregnancy. When releasing have a feeling of softening but never push. Try these simple movements, eight to ten repetitions, building up to three sets a day.

  1. Become comfortable, close your eyes and start to become focused on the normal rhythm and flow of your breath.
  2. Take your focus to the tail bone and to the anus, hold your focus there, as you inhale squeeze the ring of muscles around the anus and lift, exhale and release.
  3. Now take your focus to the front of the pubic bone, hold your focus there, as you inhale squeeze the muscles around the clitoris, it might feel like it’s being wiggled or ticked, then exhale and release.
  4. Find a sensation between the two areas and hold your focus there. This is the belly of the pelvic floor, with the inhale squeeze and lift the sphincter muscles around the vagina and lift inwards and upwards, exhale and release. Similar to holding in urine.


Yoga that engages the pelvic floor


You can also try some simple yoga moves that engage the pelvic floor. Stay in a comfortable position and work with your breath to lift and release each area in turn to slowly or quickly but using these muscles while moving through yoga postures is more effective.  As well as squeezing you should try tucking and tilting movements which contracts and stretches the muscles from front to back.


  • Tuck and tilt the pelvis. This can be done sitting or kneeling.


Inhale                        Exhale

Tuck                                        Tilt


  • Cat pose. Keep spine neutral, just move your pelvis.


Inhale                                                                          Exhale

  • Standing. Tuck tailbone under, add internal squeeze of the pelvic floor.

Inhale                                              Exhale

Watch the video to how to do the exerciese here –

Join me for pregnancy yoga or baby yoga weekly classes where we work on stregthening the pelvic floor in each class. 

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