Breastfeeding and Pelvic Health
To celebrate the HSE National Breastfeeding Week 2023, commencing on Sunday, October 1st, we are proud to join in the campaign by shedding light on the critical topic of breastfeeding support. The theme for this year, ‘Making our communities and workplaces more breastfeeding friendly,’ is particularly relevant, as it emphasises the importance of local assistance for parents and the recent legislative enhancements ensuring breastfeeding breaks at workplaces are now extended up to a child’s second birthday. In line with this important initiative, we’re dedicated to providing valuable insights and guidance to support mothers throughout their breastfeeding journey.
As a pelvic health physiotherapist, every day I meet lots of women with pelvic floor dysfunction such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and anal incontinence. Often times women may report that they were symptomatic after a previous baby and symptoms resolved after weaning their babies from breastfeeding. This has led to the impression that breastfeeding could have a negative effect by delaying the physical recovery of the pelvic floor and adding to their symptoms. Thankfully this is a myth that has been dispelled by several studies reporting that there is no link between increased rates of long term pelvic floor dysfunction and extended breastfeeding.
Embracing the Changes
It is well known that pregnancy affects the hormonal balance in the body, resulting in a high oestrogen state in the connective tissues (muscles, ligaments and fascia). This high oestrogen state is responsible for increased extensibility or ‘stretch – recoil’ of the soft tissues. Conversely, extended breastfeeding promotes a low oestrogen state in a mums’ body. This is actually now thought to have a protective effect on the pelvic floor as it gradually hardens these connective tissues. The low oestrogen state induced by breastfeeding does however cause a fully reversible lactational atrophy or wasting of the vaginal tissues. This results in increased sensitivity, dryness and irritability of the vagina. You might notice this during moments of sexual intimacy too.
Your Health Matters
Your GP can assess and discuss your symptoms and prescribe the use of vaginal oestrogen creams or pessaries alongside breastfeeding to help you overcome these symptoms. Moreover, a structured pelvic floor strengthening program, avoidance of constipation, heavy lifting and regular exercise can all promote comfort and recovery of strength and function for your pelvic floor during this very special and important time in your little one’s life.
Contact PMC Physio Dunboyne
Your pelvic floor’s well-being is an essential component of your overall health, especially during this significant time in your life. If you have any concerns or questions about pelvic health during pregnancy, postpartum, or breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact Julia, our specialist Pelvic Health Physio at PMC Physiotherapy Dunboyne who will provide you with expert guidance and support.
PMC Physiotherapy Clinic, Unit 36, Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath
01 8253 997