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What They Actually Mean When They Say 'Turn On Your Pelvic Floor'

It's something expecting mums are probably tired of hearing.

10/11/2016 6:05 AM AEDT | Updated 29/11/2016 11:37 AM AEDT
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An expert breaks down the lingo.

We know that regular exercise during pregnancy is crucial for helping the body prepare for the endgame: labor, delivery and a pint-sized healthy human.

We also know that three in four Australian women who've had vaginal childbirth in the last five years suffered an injury as a result. So while incorporating regular exercise into your routine is a positive thing, it certainly doesn't always mean a flawless birth experience.

What's important is to ensure you take care of your body before the birth, to give your body the best shot at recovery.

"After the baby is born, you need the pelvic floor muscles to come back. So the better condition they're in before you have the baby, the better the results will be after you've delivered," Gemma Sadler, owner of Dynamic Pilates told The Huffington Post Australia.

Sadler explains the pelvic floor muscles act as a sling and they support most of the organs. Which explains why we hear so much about the need to keep these little guys strong.

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"Every style of exercise has elements of core strength however, Pilates targets specific areas that require strengthening and mobility during pregnancy," Sadler said.

These areas include stretching the hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes, strengthening the postural muscles in the back, opening up the pecks and of course, the pelvic floor itself.

"The easiest way to describe how to switch the pelvic floor muscles on [for women] is by imagining you are holding in a wee, mid-stream," Sadler said.

For the guys, it's imagining they've just jumped into a cold swimming pool.

Sadler said a big part of her job is educating her clients about the importance of "switching on" the pelvic floor outside the gym.

"I always say think of one thing you do every day that's only going to last a minute -- it could be waiting at the traffic lights or the bus, where you can think about your posture and draw the pelvic muscles in," Sadler said.

For postpartum mothers, Sadler said it is crucial they get the all-clear from their doctor before returning to exercise such as Pilates, even if it is a postpartum class.

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