It’s commonly believed that vaginal birth causes damage to the pelvic floor, and this is one reason why some women choose an elective c-section. If you’re pregnant with your first baby, you might be wondering if a woman can give birth vaginally without damaging the pelvic floor temporarily or even permanently. We know our bodies are designed to give birth vaginally, but does that design include pelvic floor damage? We also know that the increase in interventions during birth is causing more damage to the pelvic floor so here are my top 5 birth interventions that may lead to pelvic floor dysfunction:
1) The epidural. This increases the likelihood of having an episiotomy and an assisted birth (with vacuum extraction or forceps). This can be due to your inability to get into a position to allow gravity to aid in the delivery and also the fact that you can’t truly listen to your body when it gets the urge to push so you may therefore be assisted in the pushing stage by your care provider.
2) Use of forceps requires an episiotomy, and is likely to result in damage to the pelvic floor. If your birth involved either Forceps, Ventouse or an Episiotomy, the chances are that you could probably do with a little reconnection and TLC for your Pelvic Floor.
3) Continuous Fetal Monitoring (CFM), which forces women to remain lying down or semi reclining. This restricts the opening of the pelvis, and forces the woman to push her baby against gravity. Women who have continuous fetal monitoring are more likely to have vacuum extraction or forceps births.
4) Coached or ‘purple pushing’, which is when the mother is told to take a breath, and then push hard for as long as she can. This can be very detrimental to the pelvic floor. The tissues need to gradually fan and stretch to accommodate the baby’s head. Forced pushing increases the chances of serious tears.
5) Enlarging the opening of the vagina by cutting it during birth (episiotomy) can also cause trauma to the pelvic floor. Midline episiotomy (straight cut) is known to increase the risk for tears into the anal muscle. Medio-lateral episiotomy (cut to the side) doesn’t seem to cause anal tears but it does go through muscle fibres. Healing is much longer and more painful and the scar can be uneven, pulling to one side.
What are my options???
If you are reading this whilst pregnant then one of the best things you can do is book yourself and your birth partner on to one of my GentleBirth Workshops. You will learn what you and your birth partner can do to stack the odd in your favour so you can look back and say you had a truly positive birth experience and that you felt calm, confident and in control the whole time.
If you at reading this and thinking that your pelvic floor muscles could definitely do with some TLC then the best thing you can do is book on to one of my Every Woman 6 week foundation courses. This is the ULTIMATE core and pelvic floor exercise class.
If you would like to book your FREE 15 min consultation to discuss your options then contact me here.