Pregnancy is an exciting and stressful time in which a lot of changes occur. Not only in family life but in the female body. That’s why it’s important to support the body before and after childbirth.
The pelvic floor comprises three levels and fulfills three important tasks during the day: relaxing, contracting and reflexive restraint. If it’s not properly strengthened, even the best multi-tasker won’t be able to handle everything at the same time. Does this sound familiar? Ultimately, anyone can have weaker musculature in their pelvic floor or suffer from pelvic floor pain. Pregnancies and childbirth, however, create additional challenges for your pelvic floor, making it even more important for you to support it with regular exercise.
What happens to the pelvic floor during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor needs to carry out two important tasks: Stabilization to support the weight of a growing child and elasticity to accommodate growth and to open the pelvis for birth. This means that even though it gets progressively softer throughout the process, it can still support the ever-increasing weight while being strained and stretched. Therefore, it’s even more important to strengthen the pelvic floor with gentle exercise during pregnancy and to continue with recovery and reinforcement after birth.
The pregnancy hormones produced by the body cause the body’s tissues, and especially the pelvic floor, whose tissues consist of muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and its surrounding muscles, to loosen up.
As the baby grows, the abdominal muscles continue to stretch, with the tendons of the straight abdominal muscles moving slightly to the side. Even the inner organs are pushed to the side.
As a result, after a certain point the diaphragm isn’t able to sink as well when breathing in, and pregnant women often feel like they’re not getting enough air as a result.
During the second trimester (fourth to sixth month), peak values are reached in cardiac output (the volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute) and blood volume (the total amount of blood in a body). Your heart is pumping extra, for two people.
Exercise and movement – but in measured steps
For example, to avoid further strain on an already stressed pelvic floor, heavy lifting and jumping are discouraged.
Hormone changes during pregnancy also cause a little more urine to be produced, and the child’s increased weight puts more pressure on the bladder. When the softened pelvic floor is overstressed, it can become noticeable through unintentional urine loss when coughing, sneezing, jumping or bending over.
Dilated blood vessels can also cause circulatory problems, because the heart has more to do. Therefore, exercise during pregnancy shouldn’t be too demanding for the cardiovascular system. The best way to exercise during pregnancy is through aerobic exercise, such as yoga or Pilates. The kind of exercise that should be done and its level of intensity is best discussed with your doctor.
What’s the first step to a strong core after pregnancy?
Regaining strength in your pelvic floor is extremely important in the long term, otherwise incontinence can occur – even in old age.
But before you think about exercising, make sure you take the time your body needs after giving birth and discuss with your doctor when it might be a good time to start a post-partum workout. Usually, doctors recommend – if necessary – to start up again with light exercise after six weeks. This way, you’ll give your body the rest it needs to regain its strength – for you and your child.
We recommend that you take a recovery course before you start back on the bellicon. The exercises you’ll learn there will be even more individually tailored to the postpartum period and will help you get to know your body again, especially in the pelvic floor area.
Afterwards, you can continue to exercise your pelvic floor with the bellicon trampoline. The most important thing is that you don’t overexert yourself and that you listen to your body. It doesn’t have to go quickly – but rather slow and steady.
We talked to Nicole Bopp on the topic of the bellicon trampoline and pregnancy.
She’s a teacher and mother of two, exercised with the bellicon trampoline before, during and after her two pregnancies, and wouldn’t miss it for the world! She tells us how helpful it was to have a stronger pelvic floor and how she’s able to integrate the mini-trampoline into her everyday family life.
How was your experience with exercising while you were pregnant?
Nicole: „During my first pregnancy, I exercised a little bit less with the bellicon. But I sometimes wonder if it would have been better had I done more. During my second pregnancy, I exercised up until the sixth month. I usually worked out with the same exercises as I did before my pregnancy, but sometimes just less intense. I even picked exercises out of a guidebook for pregnant women and then just did them on the trampoline– it worked great! The feeling of having done something for my body every day, even during pregnancy, was really good. And I can tell that my pelvic floor is already stronger now than it was at this point after my first pregnancy.“
Your younger daughter is just a few months old. Do you use the bellicon and take her with you?
Nicole: „We often have her with us when we exercise. If she gets fussy, we tuck her in our arms and bounce lightly. That quiets her down really quickly and we’ve also noticed that it’s been good for her digestion. That’s why we’re happy to do so.“
Which workouts do you like best?
Nicole: „After my older daughter was born, I developed tendinitis in my arms. I had to see how much my arms and shoulders were able to handle and which exercises were good for me. My main goal at the moment is to do postpartum exercises to strengthen my pelvic floor. I enjoy doing the exercises, and I immediately passed them on to colleagues who are also exercising to help them get back into shape. Otherwise, I like to do relaxation exercises, especially in the shoulder area, because I often get tense from carrying and breastfeeding the kids.“
Why can trampoline exercise in particular help to strengthen the pelvic floor?
Nicole: „Well, first, it has to be said: not every trampoline is good for pelvic floor exercises. Compared to an ordinary garden trampoline, the bellicon doesn’t have any steel springs, but rather elastic rubber ring technology. As a result, recoil is significantly lower and a gentle sort of exercise effect sets in. Maura Seleme measured individuals’ movements on a bellicon trampoline and demonstrated that movements on our mini-trampoline are very suitable for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles in a fun and effective way, without putting too much strain on the joints or building up too much pressure in the abdominal area.“