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The Ultimate Guide to Pelvic Floor Activations for Rebuilding Postpartum Core Strength

Updated: Jul 12


Woman is doing a plank while looking at her baby as she aims to rebuild her postpartum core strength.

Welcome to the ultimate guide on pelvic floor activations! If you are reading this, you understand the importance of rebuilding your postpartum core strength. This comprehensive guide will explore the function of the pelvic floor and its role during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. Additionally, we'll discuss how to properly activate your pelvic floor to regain your strength and confidence, addressing common issues like pelvic floor dysfunction and diastasis recti.


The Importance of Pelvic Floor Health for Postpartum Core Strength


What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is a critical group of muscles that support your pelvic organs, including the bladder, bowel, and uterus. These muscles form a hammock-like structure at the base of your pelvis. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor supports the growing baby, and it plays a crucial role in delivery. Postpartum, these muscles often need rehabilitation to restore their strength and function, which is essential for overall postpartum core health.


The Role of the Pelvic Floor in Pregnancy, Delivery, and Postpartum

During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles endure significant stress as they support the weight of the baby. This can lead to stretching and weakening of the muscles. During delivery, particularly vaginal delivery, the pelvic floor undergoes immense strain, which can further impact its strength and function. Postpartum, these muscles need focused attention to recover and support the postpartum core.


The Connection Between Pelvic Floor Health and Postpartum Core Strength

The health of your pelvic floor is directly connected to your core strength, especially postpartum. A weakened pelvic floor can lead to core instability, back pain, and other issues. Strengthening these muscles not only supports the pelvic organs but also enhances overall core stability, which is crucial for daily activities and exercise.


Understanding Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Its Impact on the Postpartum Core


Common Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions

Pelvic floor dysfunctions are common postpartum issues that can affect your core strength. Two primary dysfunctions are:

  • Incontinence: The leakage of urine or feces, often caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles.

  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The dropping of pelvic organs due to insufficient support from the pelvic floor.


Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Diastasis Recti

Pelvic floor dysfunction is closely related to diastasis recti, a condition where the abdominal muscles separate. This separation weakens the core and can exacerbate pelvic floor issues. Addressing both pelvic floor health and diastasis recti is crucial for comprehensive postpartum core recovery.


Symptoms and Causes of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Understanding the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction can help you identify and address these issues early. Common symptoms include:

  • Urinary leakage during activities such as coughing, sneezing, or exercising.

  • A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area.

  • Pain during intercourse or pelvic exams.

  • Difficulty controlling bowel movements.


Common causes include childbirth, particularly traumatic or instrumental deliveries, prolonged pushing during labor, and high-impact activities.


How to Properly Activate the Pelvic Floor to Strengthen the Core Postpartum


The Four Attachment Points of the Pelvic Floor

Proper pelvic floor activation involves engaging all four attachment points:

  • Front Attachment: Imagine trying to stop the flow of urine.

  • Back Attachment: Visualize stopping the passage of gas.

  • Side Attachments: Sit on your sitz bones and try to bring them closer together without squeezing your glutes.

For a tactile reference, sit on a rolled-up towel to feel your pelvic floor engaging.


Infographic showing the four attachment points of the pelvic floor.  This image labels the pubic symphysis, coccyx, and the ischial tuberosities.

Pelvic Floor Activation Techniques for Postpartum Core Strength


Using Visualizations

The following visualizations may be helpful:

  • Imagine picking up a blueberry with your pelvic floor.

  • Imagine slurping a smoothie out of a straw with your pelvic floor.

  • Imagine your pelvic floor as an elevator, gently lifting and lowering.

  • Visualize drawing a marble up into your body.

  • Picture your pelvic floor as a jellyfish, gently contracting and releasing.

  • Think of your pelvic floor as a flower, closing its petals.


The Importance of Both Contraction and Lengthening the Postpartum Core

Like any exercise, proper pelvic floor function involves both contraction and lengthening. Ensure you are contracting, relaxing, and lengthening the pelvic floor muscles.


Connecting Pelvic Floor Activations to Breathing


360-Degree Breathing

The true magic happens when you connect pelvic floor activations to your breathing, particularly 360-degree or diaphragmatic breathing. On the inhale, focus on relaxing and lengthening the pelvic floor. On the exhale, activate from all four points and lift the pelvic floor. Fully exhaling until no air is left to expel also engages your transverse abdominis, another key player in deep core strength.


For a detailed guide, watch my 360-degree breathing training video.


PFA Slow and PFA Fast

There are two types of pelvic floor activations:

  • PFA Slow: Slow and controlled activations connected to your breath help strengthen the pelvic floor and support pelvic organs.

  • PFA Fast: Quick lifts and lowers of the pelvic floor without breath connection, essential for addressing incontinence.


Addressing a Tight Pelvic Floor


Signs of a Tight Pelvic Floor

A tight pelvic floor can cause discomfort and dysfunction. Signs of a tight pelvic floor include:

  • Frequent UTIs

  • Burning sensation while peeing

  • Frequent urge to pee

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Incomplete or difficulty emptying the bladder

  • Constipation or straining when emptying bowels

  • Painful intercourse

  • Pelvic pain

  • Low back pain

  • Hip pain

  • Painful period cramps

  • Tailbone pain


Importance of Lengthening the Pelvic Floor

Focusing on the lengthening portion of the exercises is crucial for a tight pelvic floor. If these exercises aren't improving your symptoms or are making them worse, it may be time to seek a pelvic floor therapist.


Practical Tips for Effective Pelvic Floor Exercises


Creating a Routine

Consistency is key when it comes to pelvic floor exercises. Create a routine that incorporates these exercises into your daily life. For example, you can do them while brushing your teeth, watching TV, or exercising regularly.


Monitoring Your Progress

You can keep track of your progress by noting improvements in symptoms and strength. You can also use apps or journals to monitor your pelvic floor exercises and ensure steady progress.


Avoiding Common Mistakes

Avoid common mistakes such as overexertion, improper breathing, and neglecting the lengthening phase. Ensure you are performing the exercises correctly to get the best results.


Seeking Professional Help for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction


When to See a Pelvic Floor Therapist

If your symptoms persist or worsen despite doing these exercises consistently, seeking help from a pelvic floor therapist is essential. They can provide a manual release and personalized guidance to ensure you're on the right track to recovery.


Benefits of Professional Guidance

Professional guidance can help you identify specific issues, provide targeted exercises, and offer support throughout your recovery journey. A pelvic floor therapist can also teach you techniques to enhance your exercises and address any underlying issues.


Holistic Approaches to Postpartum Core Strength


Integrating Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration play a significant role in postpartum recovery. A balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals can aid in muscle recovery and overall health, while hydration helps maintain muscle elasticity and function.


Incorporating Gentle Exercises

In addition to pelvic floor exercises, incorporating gentle exercises such as walking, yoga, and swimming can support overall core strength and recovery. These activities promote circulation, flexibility, and gradual strength building.


Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can reduce stress and promote relaxation, which is beneficial for overall pelvic floor health. Stress can contribute to muscle tension, so finding ways to relax can aid in recovery.


The Role of Sleep in Recovery

Adequate sleep is crucial for muscle recovery and overall health. While new mothers often struggle with sleep, finding ways to rest and recuperate is essential for postpartum recovery.


Common Myths and Misconceptions About Pelvic Floor Health


Myth 1: Kegels Are The Only Exercise You Need

While Kegels are a popular pelvic floor exercise, they are often explained as simply trying to stop the flow of urine midstream. Pelvic floor activations are much more thorough as it's essential to engage the entire pelvic floor, imagining engaging from all four attachment points. Pelvic floor activations also incorporate breath with movement and focus not just on the contraction but also on the lengthening of these muscles.


Myth 2: Pelvic Floor Exercises Are Only for Women

Men can also benefit from pelvic floor exercises, especially those dealing with incontinence or prostate issues. The principles of pelvic floor health apply to both genders.


Myth 3: You Should Avoid Exercise After Giving Birth

Gentle pelvic floor exercises and breathing exercises can be started soon after delivery with guidance from a healthcare provider. Gradually adding gentle movements in connection with PFAs and diaphragmatic breathing will help you heal faster. Think of adding exercises like heel slides, bridges, and bird dogs. You should still wait until your 6-week check-up and the all-clear from your doctor before lifting weights. Once you do, take it slow and ease back into these strength exercises with all the tools you've learned from this post.


Conclusion: Rebuilding Your Postpartum Core Strength

Rebuilding your postpartum core strength starts with a healthy pelvic floor. You can make significant strides in your postpartum recovery by understanding its function, properly activating it, and connecting it to your breathing.


Take the Guesswork Out of Rebuilding Your Postpartum Core Strength


Postpartum woman exercising while playing with baby.

If you want to take the guesswork out of your postpartum recovery and build a strong, healthy core, consider my course, the Killer Core Comeback. This course is designed to help you master essential techniques like 360-degree breathing and pelvic floor activations, both crucial for postpartum core strength.


Course Details:


In-Depth Core Understanding: Learn about the deep core muscles and their role in postpartum recovery, including the connection between pelvic floor health and core stability.

Posture Focus: Discover the importance of posture in building core strength and preventing issues like diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.

8-Week Program: Follow a structured 8-week program to progressively strengthen your core with exercises specifically tailored for postpartum recovery.

Video Tutorials: Access detailed video tutorials that guide you through each exercise, ensuring you perform them correctly for maximum benefit.

Long-Term Confidence: Gain the knowledge and skills to maintain core strength beyond the course duration, supporting your overall postpartum recovery and long-term health.


For more details on what you'll get from the Killer Core Comeback course, CLICK HERE.

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