“Although pelvic floor muscles stretch over 300% during vaginal delivery, being pregnant increases your risk of pelvic floor dysfunction regardless of how you deliver,” physical therapist Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, explains. “The pregnancy itself causes postural and hormonal changes that increase the risk of bladder leaks.”
Exercise, laughter, coughing, sneezing, bending, lifting, etc. can trigger these leaks—making them essentially unavoidable postpartum. As many as four in 10 women experience urinary incontinence after giving birth, and many of them (including Port) don’t expect to.
“I didn’t really think much about my pelvic floor before becoming a mom,” she tells mbg. “I think the terminology starts sparking when you get pregnant and you’re about to have the baby.” After learning of its importance, Port began taking prenatal Pilates classes, focused on the core and the pelvic floor. And of course, following the birth, those exercises became even more top-of-mind.