My pelvic floor is far from perfect after three children. After the birth of last one, I rarely could run without leaking halfway through the second mile.
I thought that was normal. I thought it ran in my family. To this day, I can still remember my grandmother running through my childhood front door straight for the bathroom, not being able to make it the extra half mile home!
I’m here to tell you that you can get it (close to) perfect again.
Pelvic Floor Problems Exist and Can be Treated
In recent months, I have started seeing a number of women in our city come looking for solutions to their pelvic problems. While treatment for urinary or bowel urgency have long been pushed aside as “normal” effects of bearing and delivering children, I am here to tell you that the pelvic floor of healthy woman should not stay broken in medical care.
Problems like a little leakage when you bounce on the trampoline with your kids are just the tip of the problem list. These days, I hear about much more serious pelvic floor problem that women are afraid to admit, or worse, have been told they are imagining these serious symptoms. Women say things like:
“I can’t make it from home to work.”
“I feel like they have to pee all day.”
“Sex is still really painful.”
“I can’t even run or do a full work out.”
“I feel so bloated even after I poop.”
“My hemorrhoids are awful.”
We simply have to stop thinking, “This is normal”. While many doctors have ignored or dismissed concerns about these symptoms for years, there is growing evidence that pelvic healthcare does not have to stay broken.
If you have frequency or urgency issues, or pain with sex or pelvic floor pain, you are not alone! Don’t suffer in silence. Treatment plans can relieve most of these symptoms.
I work with an amazing multi-disciplinarian team to help women heal their pelvic floor dysfunction. We believe in treating the whole woman from structural to hormonal, including, the vital role of nutrition.
When the structures of the pelvic floor are too weak or too tight, it dramatically hurts gut health. Nutrition is incredibly important when it comes to pelvic floor happiness. Below are some nutrition tips to get started healing from the inside out.
4 Tips to Optimum Pelvic Floor Health
1. Get yourself a good team now!
You’ll need a physician who understands and can diagnose the root cause, a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction to retrain the muscles, and a dietitian to provide proper nutrition therapy.
2. Structure your water intake and drink water that contains electrolytes.
We don’t recommend sipping small amounts of water throughout the day as it can trigger urgency issues and make them worse. Most women we see are dehydrating themselves purposefully due to fear of leakage. I suggest starting out with an 8 ounce glass in the morning upon waking, 8 ounces at lunch and 8 ounces upon arriving at home after work or before dinner. Work up to 16 ounces at a time to retrain the bladder to fill and empty to capacity again.
3. Fiber is key.
Many, many times, pelvic pain is exacerbated by constipation. Even if you eat a salad every day, you are probably getting less than 10 grams of fiber every day, which is about 1/3 of the daily recommendation. This doesn’t mean you should just eat more whole wheat. Soluble fiber from plants is much better than a ton of insoluble fiber from grains. Adequate fiber promotes healthy hormone balance as well as by eliminating excess estrogen and helping you to fully and comfortably poop. If you have difficulty reaching your fiber goals, consider Regular Girl fiber supplement which has both pre- and probiotics.
4. Support your hormones with healthy fats intake.
Low fat is out, ladies. Aside from avocado, incorporate flax or chia seeds or hemp seeds into your morning meals which pack a punch for both fiber and healthy fats. Consider adding a teaspoon of flaxseed oil into your daily routine as well.
Perfection isn’t something I tout often as a body-positive nutrition coach, but our pelvic floor deserves attention. As me and my team often say, every woman deserves at the very least to have good poop and good sex.
For more serious + simplified nutrition help, visit www.norashank.com today.
This post is written by Nora Shank. A dietitian who coaches people to love healthy eating and living. She teaches people how to maximize their metabolism without dieting. Her clients have lost over 1000 pounds using her smart and simple strategies eating delicious food. She lives in Falls Church with her husband and three children.