It’s only natural to be concerned about the effect of birth on your pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor outcomes are determined by many different factors, which should be discussed with birth carers during pregnancy.

What affects the pelvic floor during birth

  • Interventions used during birth
  • Labour and birth positions
  • Baby’s position
  • The choice of caregivers and birth setting
  • Pain management choices

Research shows the pelvic floor benefits through

  • Strong pelvic floor muscles as they seem to facilitate rather than obstruct labour and could prevent a prolonged second stage in some women.  
  • Using midwives or a doula (non midwife support person) - research shows they decrease the need for caesarean section, requests for epidurals, length of labour for first time mums, the use of narcotics, epidurals and forceps during labour.
  • Moving during labour, changing positions and walking helps baby move down into the pelvis.
  • Changing positions – adopt upright, comfortable positions as uterine contraction move baby down through the pelvis to the pelvic floor.
  • Water submersion promotes pelvic floor muscle relaxation, provides general pain relief and may shorten the length of labour.
  • Massage is a great pain reliever so it’s a good idea to encourage your partner to practice massage techniques during pregnancy.
  • Acupuncture is an effective, non-invasive method to induce contractions, ease contraction intensity and shorten labour time.
  • TENS machine is most effective when used from early labour.
  • Music can lighten the pain felt when the music is relaxing. Some mothers use their iPod to play their favorite music loudly as a pain distraction.  
  • Aromatherapy can be used with massage to help stimulate contractions (less research available).
  • Heat packs on the lower back or tummy can reduce pain intensity