Do you pee a little when you sneeze? I know that many people will make you feel like this is normal. Especially after having a baby.
But it is actually a sign of a weak pelvic floor.
My guest Vanessa kindly like me know that a weak pelvic floor is common, but not normal and there are things that can be done to fix it.
In this episode, Vanessa shares:
- Some of the signs of a weak pelvic floor
- How having a weak pelvic floor in your younger years can cause problems when you get older like a “bad knee” (at 20 years old versus 60 years old)
- What problems can occur long term if you do not address a weak pelvic floor
- Exercises that can help build up a weak pelvic floor
So no more close calls when you are racing to the restroom. Check out this episode to learn how to improve your pelvic floor.
Vanessa is a mom of 4 kids, 5 years old and younger, and runs 2 businesses. She is passionate about empowering women to better understand their bodies through her work as a pelvic floor physiotherapist. She wants all moms to know their bodies aren’t broken after babies and they can be stronger than ever before AND not pee their pants!
- Blog/Website: https://www.theinspiredactionmethod.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.dougan.5/
- Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fitmoms1
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamvanessadougan/
- Freebie: https://www.theinspiredactionmethod.com/5-tips-to-a-healthy-pelvic-floor-ebook
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamvanessadougan/
- Blog/Website: https://www.theinspiredactionmethod.com
- Freebie: https://www.theinspiredactionmethod.com/5-tips-to-a-healthy-pelvic-floor-ebook
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Transcript of this episode
Real Happy Mom 0:02
Hey there, I’m Tanya and I have an overwhelming passion to help moms navigate motherhood without the overwhelm. I went from struggling with motherhood and losing my identity, to be productive and living out my version of being a happy mom. On the Real Happy Mom podcast, I interview real moms and experts to help you navigate raising children self care, time management, and so much more. So if you’re ready to get rid of the overwhelm, and start being a Real Happy Mom, join me inside the Real Happy Mom podcast. Hey there, welcome back to another episode of the Real Happy Mom podcast, I am so glad that you joined in on this particular conversation that we are going to have with Vanessa. And that’s because we’re going to be talking about our pelvic floor. So we’re talking about down there today. And the reason why I thought that this was such an important topic to have Vanessa come and talk about because it’s one topic that we don’t talk enough about. And honestly, by the end of the conversation with Vanessa, I learned that I need to pay more attention to my pelvic floor and making sure that it is strong and healthy, so that I don’t end up having some of the problems she described, that can arise if you neglect your pelvic floor. So in this episode, today, Vanessa is going to be sharing several things with us. One, she’s going to be sharing some of the common problems that happen when you do have a weak pelvic floor. Also, some other symptoms that a lot of times we don’t pay attention to. But we’ll definitely be signs that we do need to get some help in either having some rehab done, or getting some exercises so that we can build up our pelvic floor. Also, she talks about how having a weak pelvic floor is like having a bad knee when you get older and how, you know, a lot of times, it won’t seem like it’s a big deal when you’re in your younger years. But as you get older, that bad knee turns into a really big problem in that’s how your pelvic floor can be. And just like we are taught to check our breast and do self breast exams, Vanessa shares with us some ways that we can check to make sure that our pelvic floor is in tip top shape. And because let me be honest, like I really didn’t know like, I was like, how do you know if it’s weak or not other than some of the symptoms we described. So she shares with us that so you know exactly what to do, as well as some exercises to get you in tip top shape, so that your pelvic floor does not have any leaky problems that are described at the beginning of the conversation. So this sounds like something that would be helpful for you make sure you stay tuned to the end of this conversation, because it’s a really good one. And she shares a lot of really valuable information. And also, if you don’t already know, I am doing some coaching or strategy sessions, whichever you like to call it. But basically, Mom, I want to help you. Just like Vanessa is helping moms getting their pelvic floor. in tip top shape, I want to help you with whatever issues you are having in motherhood. So if you need assistance and some accountability when it comes to time management, and productivity, and just getting mom life together, I am here for you. So make sure you reach out to me, you can send me an email at Hello at Real Happy Mom. Or you can send me a DM on Instagram. And I can send you over all of the information so that we can get started. Because you don’t have to do this alone. And I don’t want you to, I really want to help you. So make sure you reach out and I can see the information and we can get it going. So let’s go ahead and jump into this episode of the Real Happy Mom podcast with Vanessa.
Real Happy Mom 3:44
Welcome to the podcast. Vanessa,
Real Happy Mom 3:45
I am excited to have you.
Thank you so much. I think it’s such a joy to chat with you. I feel like you just have a natural bubbly energy. And I’m just really excited to dive into it today.
Real Happy Mom 3:56
Real Happy Mom 3:56
and I am super excited to talk to you just because I know you’re gonna be answering a lot more questions. But before we jump into our topic, I just want you to share a little bit about you and what you do.
For sure. So I first and foremost, I always talk about like who I am as a person, I define myself as a mom of four kids, five years old and younger. So it’s a little bit of a busy household. But on top of that I have my background as a pelvic floor physiotherapist. I’ve been doing this for getting close to 10 years now. And I dove into the online world because I knew there was so many more people that I could help. So I do my pelvic floor physio in the online world I also really work with women trying to get back into exercise but not really knowing what to do because they’ve had a baby and they’re kind of confused between the gap between like rehabbing their their pelvic floor and core and diving right back into the boot camps that they’re so used to, to seen on social media and everything. So that’s a little bit about me.
Real Happy Mom 4:53
Nice. I love it. I love it. And one thing I’ll be honest is that I I was at a point after Having my baby that I was noticed that I was like peeing on myself quite a bit. And that’s one thing that I feel like we don’t talk a lot about. Because I remember getting upset, like when I go to the bathroom and be like, Oh, you know, thinking the oldest one was like peeing on the toilet because I had two boys. And no Was it him, it was me. And I learned that that just from, you know, the pelvic floor not being where it is. So I wanted you to talk to me just a little bit about that. Because I know when I talked to my doctor about it, she made it seem like oh, that’s common, it’s okay to have a weak pelvic floor. But it’s something that like I said, I wasn’t prepared for it. And I just wouldn’t know what some other signs are of a weak pelvic floor. If some other moms are listening, like I’ve never experienced that, but may have some of the other common symptoms,
for sure. And first to clear the air that is very, your your story isn’t an uncommon one. I don’t like to say it’s not normal, because there’s such a very degrees of normal. But we’re so used to talking about moms after babies, when they’re leaking, they’re peeing their pants, they, they talk about running or jumping, and how they can’t do that anymore. We all laugh about it. And we we think of it as just being okay to just handle after, when it’s really a pretty common issue to deal with, but completely preventable, or rehab. To do. So yeah, you’re leaking in terms of like getting right to the washroom. And having leaking is one sign of a weak pelvic floor. The things that I kind of already mentioned, you’re you’re coughing or sneezing, you’re laughing a lot. Or there’s those times that you get like a cold and you your allergies and your your Cz constantly. And in those time periods, you might have a little bit of leaking, when, in other times when you’re not dealing with allergies are it’s not a bad time, you’re not sick. You’re not, you’re not leaking, so you think it’s okay, because it’s only happening in this period of my life. But the problem is, when we keep saying it only happens in this part of my life, then you start to think of it is not a big deal when really could lead to other issues. So leaky with any of those things is one sign of weakness, and not being able to make it to the bathroom in time. So those feelings of I gotta go and I got to make it to the bathroom right now. And having that fear of almost not being able to make it in time. That is also a sign of weakness. Other signs are really have a weak core, like dealing with low back pain, back pain that doesn’t seem to ever go away just always seems like you find something that fixes it, and then it comes back. That’s another one that most people don’t really notice as much I think it has to do just with their back, when they’re really not addressing like the pelvic floor and the inner core muscles. I always like to make sure that everyone knows that these are signs of weakness in your pelvic floor. But they could also be a sign of tension in your pelvic floor because I have a really tight pelvic floor doesn’t necessarily mean it’s strong, it actually could be a sign of weakness, or just too much tension down there, too. So there’s two things going on, usually, but those are the big, big glaring ones that I tend to see. When they start when women start to come to me for some help.
Real Happy Mom 8:11
In I didn’t know about the back pain, like that was one of my own. Didn’t hear about that one. But I’ve heard of some of the other ones that you mentioned before in conversation with other moms. And I feel like a lot of times, especially if we have had our kids a long time ago, like I know some moms Listen, they probably have like bigger kids or even teenagers and things like that and are thinking like, Oh, no, like, I don’t need to worry about this. This is you know, just after I had the baby. But I just wanted to share, like why we should care about it, especially if it’s been a long time since we’ve had a baby.
Yes, I’ve worked with lots of women years after babies, and we’re talking about with women in their 40s 50s 60s 70s 80s, who hadn’t ever adjusted or who didn’t experience issues necessarily until they reach that that decade of life. The problem with kind of leaving it off, or never really having it assessed is not necessarily having the strength there. And I’ll kind of give you an example of Most people, when we’re getting to like our 40s and 50s. You always know the person who has that bad knee. And really that bad knee started somewhere in their 20s or 30s. But they didn’t address it, they kind of let it keep going. They thought like it’s just one of those things just support me, it’ll just kind of I’ll deal with him. When as you get older and older. And as you start to do more things or as you start to we might even injured a little bit, it gets worse and worse and worse. It gets harder to rehab it still possible, but it becomes more challenging. And the same thing is with the pelvic floor, if we’re not really getting a good look in terms of where are you right now? What are those muscles doing? What’s the strength? What’s their tension? What are they What are they like in today here and now. We’re not getting that good picture. We’re not knowing what we should be doing with it when we could be working on strengthening our core so that we’re not dealing with things down the line. If we’re letting things go, then we could experience more problems as we as we age. And sometimes they even meet, I had this one person who was a very, very fit person. And it was shocking to sort of see that it didn’t hit her until much later in life. And she had a poor ability to control those muscles. So somehow, she was kind of bypassing her own internal ability to use those muscles. And so when she would do any type of fitness, like her run her fitness classes, or go running, or whatever it is that she did, her muscles would cue on, but we’ve learned over time that she didn’t actually know she was doing it, when we tried to actually teach her how to do it. She couldn’t, she just didn’t, wasn’t aware of those muscles anymore. And that’s why I always like to talk with the pope floor, because it’s not something like we can see, it’s not I can show you my legs, and I can show you the muscles on there, I can show you the exercises, you can watch me across the room. But when it comes to the pelvic floor, you’re not looking there, you’re not seeing what the action is there, you’re relying solely on your feeling or the sensations of moving that area. And if we’re not tuning into that, that sensation that can kind of be lost. And we don’t really want to lose that. Because, again, it becomes harder to use those muscles if we lose, getting in touch with them.
Real Happy Mom 11:19
Real Happy Mom 11:20
and you were talking, I was just thinking of a couple things. One, thought that just came to mind is like, okay, like I understand that pelvic floor, but how can you actually tell if we’re not even showing the symptoms that, you know, we may need to do some things to actually strengthen it? Are there certain tests or certain exercises or certain things that we shouldn’t take? Or should we should notice that we’re not able to do that will give us signs like, yeah, okay, maybe I am in the position where, you know, my pelvic floor needs a little help.
Yeah, for sure. I’ll say that I encourage every single woman to get comfortable with their bodies. Because just like, the doctors always tell us, if we have to do our own breast self exam, right, you need to be aware of what what your own tissue feels like. And so you need to be aware of abnormalities. And the same thing goes down downstairs with pelvic floor, need to be comfortable looking down there. So using a mirror and sort of see what you can do. And that’s usually where I start off with most people. So doesn’t need to be hands on just needs to be a mirror down there. So you can see just the opening of your vagina to see your bowl buzz and to looking right there, and seeing what you can see if you try to make the action of stopping yourself from going pee or stop yourself from passing gas. What do you see, normally, we’ll say if things are are healthy, strong and working well, what you will see is as if your vulva kind of close slightly and pull into your body. And then when you want to, you’ll see them kind of go back to their resting position. So sometimes if they’re too weak, you won’t really notice any movement, or you’ll see your bum bum cheeks clench or your legs shake, that usually means that you’re trying to use other muscles to do the work of your pelvic floor muscles. So that’s usually the sign of a weakness. And if it’s too tight, sometimes you’ll see that action of squeezing, and then it’ll look like you almost never come back to a resting position, like you’re not even letting go. Or your it looks like it just comes back out of a resting position when you haven’t voluntarily chosen to let it go and relax. So that’s usually my very first thing to look at is, what do you see? What do you notice? From the outside, if you were sitting, if you were able to sit on one hand, and you felt the kind of bony part that you’re sitting on under one bum cheek? If you put your hands just to the inside of that? If you squeezed if you tried to do the action of stopping yourself from passing Yes, or stop yourself from going pee? Do you feel a little bit of muscle movement in there? Does it feel a little does it feel strong? Does it feel like you it lets go when you want it to let go? And then being really in tune in terms of what are you feeling on the inside? So if you didn’t have your hands or if you didn’t have your eyes to see, what are the things that you’re feeling? Does it feel like you’re doing something? Does it not feel like you’re doing something being really in tune in terms of your own body awareness is the big first step to start working on this area?
Real Happy Mom 14:25
Yeah, I love all that because like I said, I didn’t know and I’ve heard of the breast exam, but no one ever talks about, you know, making sure that you’re
Unknown Speaker 14:34
in tip top shape. So
Real Happy Mom 14:35
I love that you gave us that explanation. So now we know what to look for. But if we are in that camp where we do have a weak pelvic floor or it’s too tight as you described before, what are some problems that can happen to us later when it comes to our core?
It’s kind of like we already touched on so if you do have a weak pelvic floor or too tight public Or what ends up happening is you you’re not functioning in your middle as best as you could. So if it’s too weak, then you’re dealing like that’s, that’s the bottom of your, your pelvis, it’s supporting a lot of organs. So if you’re, if it’s too weak, and you’re doing things that exert pressure, like you’re lifting kids, or you’re moving furniture or anything, where you think of like, where you kind of hold your breath and brace, those types of actions, if you think about like your, your a balloon, if you squeeze the balloon in the middle, where does the pressure go up and down. So on the downside, if you have a weak public floor, so a lot of pressure that’s being exerted on it, and there’s not a counter pressure from your pelvic floor to support it, and when what could happen is things like a prolapse or, or things where your organs started more drop into the vaginal canal. It’s not a it’s not a very pleasant experience. And some people do require a lot of rehab. And some people even require surgery from that. Again, if you kind of let things keep going, and you do things that aren’t good for a weak pelvic floor, and same thing could really happen with a tight pelvic floor, because it’s not. Again, it’s not like it’s a solid base, holding up your organs, because it’s too tight, it’s still weak, it just happens to be a lot of tension. So again, it’s almost like it’s squeezing all the time, like it’s holding up like 100 pound weight, just holding, holding, holding, holding. So when you actually need it to turn on and squeeze that last little bit, it’s too weak, you can’t do it. So the same problems can come can arise with tight pelvic floor, you could end up with something like a prolapse, you could you could have abdominal separation, you could have back pain, you could have back issues, because there’s not a supporting system of your core to really stabilize that spine.
Real Happy Mom 16:45
Yeah, and when you say like that, I’m like, Okay, yeah, now it’s time for me to get it together, make sure that we don’t have those problems, because I don’t want any of those things you described. So help us out with some exercises that we could possibly start with to help with strengthen things up so that we don’t have to deal with these problems down the road.
For sure. So I’ll give you my basics of what I find the majority of my clients have ever needed. I always recommend, if you feel like you have an issue, go see a pelvic floor therapist, and I recommend it because I’m like it might even just be a one time appointment where they have a look at you, they tell you this is what’s going on and you have a lot of clarity. But in saying that most of the basic exercises I start with just have to do with engaging the core and being able to relax your muscles at the same time. So the first exercise that I always start with is deep breathing, and relearning how to breathe. And the reason for that is that deep belly breathing that diaphragmatic breathing uses your diaphragm. So what’s just at the bottom of your ribcage to pull down. And if you think about that, pulling down into your abdomen, it’s kind of putting a little bit of pressure on your pelvic floor. And as it as you breathe out, the diaphragm kind of comes right back up into your ribs. And it almost pulls your pelvic floor up with it like it’s kind of helping it squeeze a little bit. So I love to start with diaphragmatic breathing because it gave us the most advantageous thing to get you starting to relax your pelvic floor and giving you a little bit of a boost when you’re trying to contract your pelvic floor trying to squeeze those muscles down below. So usually start people lying down flat on their backs, I find it’s comfortable, you don’t have to think about anything else. Life on your back, one hand on your belly, one hand on your chest. And making sure as you take a deep breath, you’re not trying to force the air in. But you’re trying to make sure that you’re it’s not just your chest that’s rising that it feels more like your hand is rising higher than the level of the hand on your chest. That’s my first exercise. From there we use deep breathing to visualize your pelvic floor relaxing. So how can you think about as you take a deep breath in the diaphragms pushing down to the abdomen, it’s putting a little bit of pressure will say on the pelvic floor, you can think about your sit bones coming wider apart, you can think about if you’ve had a look down below, you can kind of think about what that looks like when it comes down like things that are kind of coming back away from your abdomen. Then from there, we move more into a strengthening exercise. So now how can we use our breathing to help us squeeze. So we take a nice deep breath in. And then on our exhale, we think about squeezing as if we’re stopping yourself from going pee or passing gas or both. trying to squeeze the butt those sit bones coming together, holding it for one two seconds and then letting it come back down and trying to hold our breath at the same time. And I feel like those three exercises in and of themselves are challenging when you’re first starting. Which sounds silly unless you’re actually doing this while I’m talking because it’s hard to coordinate everything and trying to coordinate with your brain. And trying to coordinate with what you’re feeling? And how are you squeezing those muscles? Are they squeezing them when you want them to? Those are the basics of what I even start from just to get in tune with what those muscles are doing, and what you’re feeling. Because those are key and just progressing from there. Because if you can feel like when you’re relaxing those muscles, you’re relaxing. If you can feel when you’re strengthening those muscles, when you’re, when you’re pulling them in, you can feel that, then everything else just comes, just makes it a little bit harder. Everything comes a little bit harder by like moving your arms or squeezing longer or doing a squat and squeezing those muscles or lots of other progressions beyond that,
Real Happy Mom 20:40
yes, this was really good and really, really helpful. So I definitely can see how all of this would definitely start building things up. So definitely, if we are looking to either connect with someone like you, were is a good place to get started with finding someone who is specialized with the pelvic floor so that we can get some help.
There is in Canada, we have a group called pelvic health solution. So usually you can google them and you can find a therapist through there. In the US, you guys have a similar search engine. Usually if you just look up women’s health physiotherapist, you’ll pop up a couple of sites which are lost on me right now in terms what their names are. But I can definitely send you those links. And they are a wealth of information in terms of just clicking on find the therapist. And it’ll it’ll ask you to search your area and then that way, you can just reach out to them. There’s a lot of more therapists today than there weren’t even two years ago. So it’s there’s a lot of people out there to help you.
Real Happy Mom 21:42
Perfect and for sure, I’ll make sure to include those links in the show notes. So, Vanessa, if there is someone listening that wants to connect with you and learn more about you and even get some more help from you, where can we find you online?
The best place to find me is really through Instagram because I tend to be there on every day trying to share as much as I possibly can. So my username on there is I am Vanessa Dougan, you can connect with me through there. I’ve had lots of people reach out and ask me random questions. Do not feel like it is Oh, weird question. If you feel like you have a weird symptom, I have dealt with so many people reaching out and me being like, it’s okay, that’s I’ve heard of it. It’s okay, here’s, here’s what you need to do, or at least direct you in the right place so that we don’t feel so lost.
Real Happy Mom 22:27
Awesome. And for sure. Again, I will include that link in the show notes. So definitely, we’ll make sure that we can connect with you there because I know there are many more questions we want to x but may not want to act on the show. So you don’t know.
And I should say I also have on my website there’s a free tips for my my general tips, kind of like what you talked about with the exercise and then deep breathing. My free tips for a healthy pelvic floor, you can definitely reach out on my website and get that little free download for you too.
Real Happy Mom 22:57
Perfect. Well, Vanessa, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all of this with us. This has been super helpful. And I’ve learned so much today.
That’s awesome. I always love chatting. And it’s so pleasurable to talk with you today.
Real Happy Mom 23:12
Now that does it for this episode of the Real Happy Mom podcast. Make sure you check out the links in Show Notes for this episode. and tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for an episode here with me with another guest or me by myself. So do me a favor. If you have enjoyed this podcast and enjoy this episode. Leave me a rating and review wherever you listen to this podcast, in particular on Apple podcasts because it helps get the word out. And lets Apple podcast know that this is a good podcast to actually recommend to other moms. And if you’re like Tony and I don’t listen to your podcast on Apple podcast, that is totally fine. Do me a favor. I want you to take a screenshot of you listening to this podcast and put it in your Instagram stories or Facebook stories. And that would mean the world to me. Now that is it for this episode. Make sure you tune in next week for another full episode. And I’ll be back then take care and with lots of love