Continued from their article in Baby London’s Jan/Feb issue, Doctor and Daughter duo, Roger Marwood and Rebecca Maberly offer some advice on pelvic floor exercises and address the myths surrounding pregnancy and food.
PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
Pregnancy damages and weakens your pelvic floor muscles, which support important organs like your bladder, uterus and lower bowel. If you do not maintain the strength of this muscle then they may drop or prolapse from their normal position. This can result in stress incontinence, where you wet yourself when you sneeze or cough, or in worst cases a prolapse where these organs can drop down through your vagina.
Doing regular pelvic floor exercises will strengthen these muscles and will not only help you with a vaginal birth, but also help you to recover more quickly from rips, tears and haemorrhoids.
Doctor and Daughter’s top pelvic floor exercises:
If you imagine you want to stop yourself doing a wee mid-flow, the muscles you would use are your pelvic floor muscles. So if you just sit down on a chair and squeeze these muscles, you will feel them contracting inside. When you first start to do these, you may only be able to hold them for a second or two. You should repeat this 10 or 15 times in a row and try to avoid holding your breath, or tightening your stomach, buttock, or thigh, muscles, at the same time.
You should gradually, over a few weeks try and push yourself to hold them for up to 10 or 15 seconds. You will soon be able to hold each one for 10 seconds and easily do a set of 10. You should aim to repeat this a few times a day.
Here are some good ways of remembering to do these:
• Every time you wash your hands do a set
• Every time you stop at the traffic lights do a set.
• Do a set when you wake in the morning.
• Do a set when you get into bed.
You should try and do these everyday up until the birth and continue with them again after the birth. If you have stitches after a vaginal birth then start the pelvic floor exercises as soon as these have been done, this will help increase blood flow and healing. It may feel a bit weak and odd the first time you try them after giving birth, but persevere and in a few weeks it will feel normal again.
If you can carry on doing these for the rest of your life you will have very strong pelvic floor muscles and may avoid things like urinary incontinence and a prolapse in later life.
FOOD AND PREGNANCY
There are certain foods that pregnant women are advised to avoid. There are also many food items which pregnant women seem to avoid unnecessarily, probably due to old wives’ tales – as long as you are not allergic to these foods and you are confident that they have been prepared well, then they should be fine to eat while pregnant.
The main foods to avoid, which, no doubt you will find yourself craving, are;
• Raw or Runny Eggs – look out for this in fresh mayonnaise
• Rare or Undercooked Meat
• Unpasteurised Milk
• Raw Shellfish
• Shark, Marlin and Swordfish
• Unwashed Salad
• Unpasteurised Cheese
(Hard Blue Cheeses such as Stilton are fine to eat according to the NHS website, soft Blue Cheeses are NOT, such as Roquefort. Mould ripened cheeses such as Camembert and Brie can only be eaten if cooked.
Many other types of cheese are OK to eat if they’re made from pasteurised milk. This includes cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta, halloumi, goats’ cheese and processed cheeses such as cheese spreads.)
• Limit the amount of Tuna to no more than 4 cans a week or 2 tuna steaks a week.
• Limit the amount of oily fish such as Mackerel, sardines and trout to no more than 2 portions a week.
So there are not that many things to avoid for the duration of your pregnancy, we would just advise that you be mindful of who has prepared your meal and make sure that you wash any fruit and veg before eating.
When reheating food make sure that you heat it until it is piping hot.