Pregnant with her third child, Melissa Neilsen was determined to stay fit and active – and keep running. But ignoring the signs her body was telling her something wasn't right, she ended up with pelvic floor dysfunction postpartum. Here she shares what she wishes she'd known.
Pregnant with my third child, I decided I was going to make it my best pregnancy yet.
As a Personal Trainer, I was feeling stronger than ever before and I was determined I would stay fit and active through the pregnancy. I loved running and ran every day, right into my third trimester.
At first, everything felt easy, but as my baby grew so did the discomfort. I didn’t stop, however. I ignored my body and pushed on. I ran even when I could feel so much pressure that I thought I was going to wee myself.
I wish I’d known what I know now though because that excessive running contributed to my weak pelvic floor resulting in pelvic floor dysfunction postpartum.
I wish I’d known that running every day, sometimes up to 10km a day, was putting so much pressure on my pelvic floor.
I wish I’d known that when I was running and I felt like I was going to wee myself (the pressure down there was that bad), that that was my pelvic floor screaming at me that it was under too much pressure. Maybe then I wouldn’t have suffered pelvic floor dysfunction post-birth.
Of course, I don’t think it was the only reason I experienced it – there were other contributing factors – but had I listened to my body, maybe things wouldn’t have got so bad.
So, here are some things I wish I’d been educated on when pregnant so I could have had a better postpartum journey.
1. Feeling pressure ‘down there’ when you are running is a sign of a weak pelvic floor.
I distinctly remember when running how uncomfortable it would feel trying to stop myself from weeing myself while running but not wanting to stop because I had ‘goals’. I’d joke about how the baby mustn’t want me to run because it was pushing down on my bladder. If only I’d known that the sensation I was feeling was because my pelvic floor was weak.
2. The constant bouncing up and down from running adds strain to the pelvic floor.
Having a baby growing inside of you puts pressure on your pelvic floor. Having that belly bounce up and down consistently puts even more pressure on your pelvic floor. I never considered when I was running while pregnant the impact I was having on my pelvic floor. And that with each run, without any awareness, I was doing more damage.
3. A Women’s Health Physio can help you
Often, we see physios for recovery once something has gone wrong with our body. But seeing a Women’s Health Physio early in your pregnancy journey will help you discover early on if you have any pelvic floor concerns and maybe even prevent pelvic floor dysfunction later on.
Mums, you know your body best. Take notice of the signs and acknowledge a red flag when your body gives you one. If you love running and it feels good for you, great! When to stop will be your call. If your bladder is leaking when you run, your pelvic floor is telling you it’s too much. If you are noticing any discomfort or heaviness down there, perhaps it is time to stop.
If you choose to run when pregnant, do just one thing first: see a Women’s Health Physio. With the support of a WHP, you can learn when running is OK for you and when it is less advisable and you can rest assured knowing you are doing what’s best for you and your baby for pregnancy, post-partum and beyond.
Melissa runs CustoMNfit from Hughenden, QLD and coaches women from all parts of Australia via an online platform. To find out more about her and get in touch, click ‘Book a trial’ or ‘Ask a question’ at the bottom of this story.
Click here to find a Women’s Health Physio near you.
MumSafe™ is the go-to place online for women to find mum-focused fitness services that are all accredited, experienced and partnered with women’s health physios so you know you are in very safe hands.