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Impact of Pregnancy on Pelvic Floor Muscles

September 9, 2022

Pregnancy is the most overwhelming part of one’s life. When you get the news of pregnancy everyone is so excited and they only think about the baby. But, pregnancy and postpartum are the two most important phases of life where you need to train your muscles so that they don’t get affected in the later parts of life. The majority of females in their late 50s suffer from stress incontinence in which they are not able to hold the urine while they cough or sneeze or even when they laugh. If the situation is worse, leaking can also happen with just sitting or standing or bending movements. So, it is very important to understand the role and impact of pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and even after birth.

What are pelvic floor muscles?

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In simple terms, the pelvic floor is the muscles with the help of which you pass or hold urine and even defecate. These muscles are dome-shaped and help in separating the pelvic cavity above and below. The pelvic cavity encloses the pelvic organ like the bladder, intestine and uterus in the case of females.

These muscles form the base of your core muscles and therefore also work in the stability of your body. These muscles extend from the pubic bone in front to the tail bone in the back. Also extends to the sides of sitting bones.

 How to feel these muscles?

To feel the muscles, first sit in a comfortable position. Now imagine as if you have to pass urine or release gas but you are stopping yourself from doing it. Basically, you are contracting your front and back passage together. If you feel an inward and upward muscle pull in your pelvis, you are on the right muscles.

What are the main pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles, but out of which we have two important muscles to talk about.

First is the levator ani which makes the most of the bulk of your pelvic floor muscles and further consists of three muscles: pubococcygeus, puborectalis and iliococcygeus. This muscle majorly covers the entire pelvis. 

Then comes the Coccygeus muscles which are located in the back of your pelvis. It is a small muscle and its major function is supportive.

Also Read : Pelvic Pain during Pregnancy (PGP)

What are the functions of pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles work along with your core muscles to absorb the outside pressure while doing certain activities like lifting, coughing, sneezing, etc. to protect the spine and organs.  Other functions are:

  • to support the abdominal organs
  • to maintain the urinary and faecal continence
  • helps in voiding and defecation
  • helps in sexual activity
  • helps in childbirth

 How pelvic floor muscles are impacted?

Just like any other muscle in the body these muscles also have a tendency to get weak (loose) or tight. Both the conditions like lose or tight can land up in various conditions like stress incontinence, urge incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, constipation or vaginismus.  Therefore the aim is to create a balance between contraction and relaxation of the muscles. The pelvic floor muscles should be strong enough to support the core and it should be flexible enough to stretch and relax. But when we talk about dysfunction it is important to understand that the human body is a complex machine. It works as a single unit but it is managed by different small units that work altogether.  If one muscle group is affected then it can impact the other muscle groups as well.

Now let's move on to pregnancy and its impact on pelvic floor muscles

As we discussed pelvic floor muscles work to support the pelvic organ from the down. But in the case of pregnancy along with the weight of organs, these muscles carry the extra weight of the growing uterus and the fetus inside. Therefore these muscles are working 24*7 to hold the weight of the baby.  This results in the stretching and weakening of these muscles. That is why many women experience stress incontinence in pregnancy.  If the episodes of such events increase in pregnancy this indicates that she might suffer from it later on.

After the pregnancy, in labour, it is important to keep the pelvic floor muscles relaxed at the time of push. But if you are holding your muscles tight and you are straining you are actually damaging your pelvic floor muscles. The more relaxed you keep your muscles more easily they are going to stretch as muscles are elastic in nature.

Therefore it is important to strengthen and stretch your pelvic floor muscles in your pregnancy in order to avoid perineal tearing and damage. Also, it is important to retrain the muscles in postpartum.


Many people tend to ignore their pelvic floor muscles till the time they suffer from the dysfunction. It is advisable not to wait for the dysfunction to happen, work on your pelvic floor muscles care. Training your pelvic floor muscles will give you more control over bladder and bowel function also it will improve sexual function.


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