This is the fourth post (Week 13) in the series "What you don't expect when you're expecting".
CONGRATULATIONS - you’ve made it to the second trimester!
...kinda. 40 isn’t divisible by 3 so some people say it starts Week 13 while others say Week 14.
But you didn’t come here for a math lesson...moving on.
According to “everyone”, you’re in the sweet spot. Nausea is gone, energy is back up, and you’re not so big that you have to waddle everywhere (yet).
But let’s be real...this may not be the case for you. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad if you’re not feeling as great as you were promised. For MOST women, the second trimester does offer a bit of relief from the fatigue and nausea that accompanies the first trimester. For some, it’s like a switch has been flipped and all the complaints of the previous weeks have disappeared. For others, it’s a gradual “coming out of it” over the next few weeks.
So if you still feel like garbage, I invite you to stop reading, save this post, and come back when you feel a bit better.
Moving on I’m going to assume we’re all feeling pretty good? Yeah? Whoop whoop!
(Yes I pretend you’re talking back to me when I write these.)
Now is a great time to up your activity level - or heck, START an activity level if the first trimester kicked your ass. Full disclosure, my main activity was napping for pregnancy number 2. I did one 30-minute Pilates class at about 10 weeks and then re-hung up my mat up until about 15 weeks. No shame in the nap game, momma!
If you have decided that now is the time to move more, there are a few modifications you need to be aware of. I’ll address a lot of them, along with how to improve pregnancy related aches and pains, over the coming weeks.
But for now, I want you to find your pelvic floor.
It’s a magic place responsible for
supporting the organs in your abdominal cavity.
maintaining intra-abdominal pressure (important for efficient movement!)
keeps your pee, poop, and baby in.
lets your pee, poop, and baby out when it’s time.
Yet we take it for granted. Most of our lives, the muscles of the pelvic floor just work without much thought. But now that you’re pregnant, I’m sure you’ve been told, or read, about Kegels about 100 times and as a result, you might be hyper-aware of your pelvic floor for the first time in your life.
I’m going to provide you with a list of every pelvic floor contraction cue / visualization I can think of but first, a little anatomy.
You pelvic floor consist of 2 layers;
the superficial urogenital triangle and
the deep pelvic diaphragm.
For simplicity’s sake (because there are a lot of muscles in those two layers), you can visualize the urogenital triangle as running side-to-side (connecting your sitz bones) and the pelvic diaphragm as running front-to-back (connecting tailbone to pubic bone.
So yes, there is more than one way to do a pelvic floor contraction. If you aren’t sure if you’re doing it the best way possible, I encourage you to make an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. They will be your best friend throughout pregnancy and into the Fourth Trimester. Not only will they make sure you’re optimally using your pelvic floor, they can also help with any pregnancy or postpartum related aches and pains, including hips, SI joint, pubic bone, stress incontinence, and diastasis...and more that I probably don’t even realize!
Now, one more thing before I get to that list of cues.
Besides having a strong contraction, you also want to make sure you relax as well. The pelvic floor, like all of your muscles, should be responsive. True strength comes from having a muscle that reacts through its entire range of motion.
Think of your biceps. What if the muscle was so tight, you couldn’t straighten your elbow? Not very functional, right? You want your biceps to work no matter what the angle of your elbow may be.
Now imagine a pelvic floor that was so tight, it never was able to open. That sounds like a recipe for disaster when it comes to birth!
Next week, I’ll be discussing the relationship between the pelvic floor and the rest of your core canister, but for now, here is a list of every pelvic floor cue / visualization I can think of.
Inhale on the release and exhale on the contraction (again, I’ll get to the ‘why’ of that next week).
Drink a smoothie through a straw with your vagina
Stop the flow of urine
Stop the passing of gas
Lift a pearl with your labia
Draw your tailbone towards your pubic bone
Draw your sitz bones together
Tighten a tightrope running from your pubic bone to tailbone
Move your PF like a jellyfish
Pick up a blueberry
Clit to belly button
Closing a drawstring purse
Melt the butter (for the inhale/release)
Hold in a tampon
Imagine an elevator going up
A flower blooming and closing
Did you notice other parts of your body joining in? That’s because your pelvic floor doesn’t exist in a vacuum - it works together with your transverse abdominals, your back extensors, and your diaphragm.
But all that goodness is coming next week!
Until then, let me know -
Did you try them all? Do you have a favorite?