Sometimes I Pee When I Sneeze and Other Reasons Why Pelvic Floor Health is Important
Considering that one of the first things you put on after giving birth is a Depends or something similar to it, it almost feels like we're being setup to expect leaking to be a new way of life after birth. Sometimes, it can be. But seeing as I don't want to accidentally pee every time I sneeze (or cough, or laugh, or get startled), I started looking for a way to take care of my little pee problem. What I learned though was that this "side effect" isn't something I, or any woman, has to live with. It's not even about more kegels or a quick crossing of the legs - it's about Pelvic Floor Health.
Pelvic floor health is about taking care of a part of your body that worked really, REALLY hard carrying, supporting, and pushing out Baby. I was lucky enough to get connected with Dr. Eileen Abrahamian, a chiropractor who works with BIRTHFIT, a program that specializes on prenatal and postpartum physical care. She told me to come and try out a session of 1 hour a week for 4 weeks and I am so happy that I did! What blew me away the most was that the BIRTHFIT program was about taking care of yourself before AND after baby and I really got a kick out of how the movements mimic those that babies do - starting with floor exercises, core work rolling, and eventually using your core strength to get to your feet. It wasn't like any exercise I'd done before and knowing that it was helping me recover from birth and strengthen my pelvic floor to help with any future births (and ya know, the whole peeing when sneezing thing), made me feel so good. That hour became a part of my Self Care routine. I loved it so much that I asked Dr. Eileen if I could interview her to more facts about pelvic floor health and why it's so important. Check out the interview below and be sure you stay until the very bottom where I give info about upcoming classes!
Dr. Eileen guiding me through some core exercises! Did I not mention that babes in arms are allowed to attend?! One of my favorite aspects were all the babies coming and squawking or practicing rolling over while their mamas focused on themselves. And if your baby did need you? Most of the moves were able to be performed while holding baby. Finally - a program that gets moms!
What is your background education?
I went to UCSD and received my bachelor's degree in Psychology, then continued to SCUHS (Southern California University of Health Sciences) where I received my Doctorate of Chiropractic degree.
Why is pelvic floor health important?
Our pelvic floor muscles are more important than we think, we utilize them every single day in more ways than we are even aware of. These muscles help increase intra-abdominal pressure when we carry or lift heavy objects, cough, sneeze, etc. When dealing with pelvic floor instability, you may encounter issues such as low back pain, urinary continence issues, and even painful sex (especially postpartum). Often these issues are set aside as “normal” issues that a postpartum mom deals with, but common is not normal! You do not need to deal with these issues! A weak or unstable pelvic floor can be addressed, and with proper functional movements can be healed and strengthened! BIRTHFIT postpartum series focuses on specific functional movements to heal, recover, and strengthen your pelvic floor as well as your core. Don’t stress mama, you will not be dealing with the fear of unintentionally peeing your pants forever - we’re here to get that under control!
What is BIRTHFIT and how did you start working with BIRTHFIT?
BIRTHFIT is a movement. It’s about expecting and postpartum mamas taking charge of their bodies and their decisions, all while supporting one another’s journeys - together and apart. We challenge the status quo and ask the questions no one else asks. We are here to provide a safe environment and supportive community to help women through their motherhood transition. The way I got started with BIRTHFIT was actually very organic. I met with Dr. Lindsey (founder of BIRTHFIT) to learn more about what BIRTHFIT is and how I could get involved. We vibed really well and she has this contagiously positive energy about her. She invited me to the BIRTHFIT summit to meet all the other regional directors, and the rest is history! It was the natural next step for me both professionally and personally. BIRTHFIT is just so much more than I can put into words, it’s truly a loving community, and a way of life!
Why is something like BIRTHFIT important for moms to be and moms postpartum?
BIRTHFIT is about readiness. It’s about really getting to know yourself and your body. Understanding what you like, want, don’t want, and making your own decisions. In less than a year, your body goes through the most physically demanding transition from pregnancy, to labor, then motherhood. The four pillars of BIRTHFIT are fitness, nutrition, chiropractic, and mindset which are all crucial for both expecting mamas and postpartum mamas to achieve optimal health, and make sure they are both physically and mentally prepared for this amazing new journey. With all the changes occurring in the body, we need to be sure we are able to adapt and function at 100% during the different phases of the motherhood transition. And you can definitely count on your BIRTHFIT tribe to support, educate, prepare, and love you throughout the whole magical experience!
While BIRTHFIT classes are nationwide, I attended the one at Gracefull Birth, a birthing center in Silverlake. I loved the fact that these classes were held in a casual setting that was comfy, not a cold and metallic gym. It made having baby there much more comfortable!
What is the biggest misconception that you come across in your work in regards to prenatal and postpartum care? How do you change that misconception?
We all know how important and necessary exercising and staying active is for our health and overall well-being. Unfortunately, that same logic doesn’t apply to pregnant and postpartum mamas. I have a lot of mamas reaching out to me asking if it is safe to even go for a long walk because they are scared it is too strenuous for the baby. The thought process that exercising is potentially dangerous for expecting moms is extremely outdated. There is a ton of research on the topic and not only is it safe for pregnant women, it is crucial for preparing for labor! Labor is one of the most physically demanding experiences of your life! Would you attempt a triathlon or an Ironman event without training for it? Why should labor be any different?! Ladies, training your body for labor is the same as training for a marathon! You prepare your body to be able to endure the labor process to ensure a safe and efficient labor process. “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by James F. Clapp III M.D., is a very informative, comprehensive and scientific book that is easy to understand. I highly recommend reading this book if you are concerned or worried about exercising while you are pregnant.
What is the top piece of care that you recommend to moms to be? What about for moms postpartum?
This may sound biased, but Chiropractic care both during pregnancy and postpartum is key! Seeing a prenatal chiropractor is beneficial for your spine and pelvic health. Dealing with a misaligned pelvis during pregnancy can restrict the amount of space available for your growing baby. This can interfere with your baby’s normal movements, and is known as intrauterine constraint. Intrauterine constraint can lead to complications for both mom and baby during labor, so it is crucial to avoid this issue all together. Another common complication that can arise and potentially derail a mom’s birth plan due to a misaligned pelvis is that baby may not be in the most optimal position for birth. Our goal as prenatal chiropractors is to avoid these situations from occurring in the first place! Having a perfectly aligned pelvis also means your baby has less of a chance being in a breech or posterior position. Complications from a misaligned pelvis can also affect a woman’s ability to have a natural birth. Maintaining a healthy, aligned spine and pelvis can substantially decrease your time in labor. And who wouldn’t want that?!
Postpartum chiropractic care is more focused on healing. Being a new mom can be stressful, but your chiropractor is here to help keep your mind right and body healthy. Your body has just endured the most physical and intense experience and is slowly trying to recover and heal. Your ligaments are slowly starting to tighten and bring your body and pelvis back to its previous position. This can take a long time, so don’t forget to give yourself time and be patient. You are now also engaging in repetitive motions of picking baby up, breast feeding, carrying a car seat and this can be a lot of stress on the body. These movements are all contributing factors to neck pain, back aches, etc., but don’t stress mama - we are here to help! Regular adjustments during this healing phase can be extremely beneficial for your body, mind, and spirit!
What is your favorite aspect of your work?
Being around powerful & strong women. I am constantly in awe of the amazing mamas I get to work with. I love seeing the genuine friendships and connections that develop from the BIRTHFIT classes. It’s really refreshing to see women build each other up and consistently provide positive support for one another. It’s pretty awesome!
Is there anything else you'd like moms and moms to be to know?
- At the end of the day, you and baby are the only two people that have guaranteed tickets to the birth! Make sure you know what you want, and don’t want. We live in a society now that strips women of their ability to parent before they even birth their child. Don’t forget ladies, this is your birth and you get to decide how it goes! Too many times we hear about women not even knowing their options and alternative options that are available to them.
The amazing Dr. Eileen and my sweet BIRTHFIT swag (that every mama gets to walk away with!) If you wanna see more of Dr. Eileen in action, check out @birthfitsilverlake
For mamas in the Los Angeles area, click HERE to get the deets on upcoming classes in Silverlake. For mamas nationwide, click HERE to find classes near you.
Dr. Eileen is 27 years young, and is a BIRTHFIT chiropractor that specializes in prenatal, postpartum, and pediatric care! She use to be a preschool teacher during college, and has always been passionate about working with kids and helping them thrive and develop. With her passion for kids and fascination with the human body and healthy living, she found her calling as a Chiropractor! Dr. E was born and raised in Glendale, California and will always be a socal girl! When she is not bonding and enjoying time with all the awesome pregnant mamas and babies at BIRTHFIT, you can find her soaking up the sun at the beach, or enjoying a yoga class. She is a diehard basketball fan (Go Lakers!) and a self proclaimed coffee connoisseur.
*While I was offered to attend a session of the BIRTHFIT classes for free, this post is in no way sponsored or paid for by BIRTHFIT. This program is conducted by people I believe have the best interests of mama and baby in mind. All opinions are my own.*