Healthy Toilet Habits During Pregnancy
This might seem like a strange topic, and it may not seem that important, BUT, establishing good toilet habits is incredibly important for safeguarding your pelvic floor during pregnancy AND the postpartum period.
Healthy Toilet Habits: What to Consider
Going to the toilet is a great opportunity to practice relaxing your pelvic floor muscles (which is really important birth preparation) - but it’s also a great opportunity to create unnecessary tension in the pelvic floor muscles (which is not so bueno).
Many of us hold our breath and “push” down on our pelvic floor when going to the loo - this put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, weakens it and put us at greater risk of:
Pelvic floor dysfunction - like leaking.
Hemorrhoids - far more common during pregnancy and postpartum than you would think.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) - where the pelvic organs descend into the vagina.
Hypertonic “too tight” pelvic floor - which is hard to relax, can cause pain during sex as well as pelvic floor dysfunction and can be problematic during birth.
In order to safeguard our pelvic floors, stick to the following guidelines in the text below.
To watch my super weird tutorial on going to the toilet, I highly recommend that you sign up for my free Core Basics for Pregnancy Course.
(You'll receive a ton of other tips about safeguarding your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor during pregnancy)
Pregnancy Toilet Guidelines:
When doing a number two:
Place your feet on a stool so that your knees are above your hips (we were built to poo in a squat, not in a sitting position! This helps un-kink your rectum, making pooping much easier!)
Lean forward and put your elbows on your knees.
Practice diaphragmatic breathing (you can find it in this breathing tutorial) - think about bringing the breath into your pelvic floor, tummy muscles and lower ribcage
DO NOT hold your breath
DO NOT bear or push down
Think about relaxing your pelvic floor, thighs, bum and tummy muscles. Scan over the muscles, notice any clenching and let go. Some people find it easier with eyes closed.
Don’t talk or shout at people while you’re doing a poo! (If you’re a mum already, you know what I mean)
Don’t hang out in that position after your number 2 is done. If you need more alone time, put the toilet seat down and sit on that!
Again, sign up for my "Core Basics for Pregnancy" course for a video tutorial on this.
Healthy Toilet Habits While Going Number One:
You don’t need to elevate your knees, but some people find it helpful and report that it helps them empty their bladder fully.
Focus on relaxing your pelvic floor and breathing as before.
Don’t push or squeeze the urine out. Urination should be a release of the sphincter muscles, not a contraction of any muscles.
These simple guidelines are even more important after giving birth, in particular if you had a vaginal birth. Practice these healthy toilet habits during your pregnancy and they will be second nature during the postpartum period.
If you want to learn more about safeguarding your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles during pregnancy, sign up for my FREE Core Basics for Pregnancy course - it’s a 10-day course covering loads of different topics from kegels to lifting weights to diastasis recti. It shouldn’t take you more than 10-minutes a day.
Jen Curtis is a Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness Specialist who seeks to help women stay fit and strong during this chapter of their lives with evidence-based exercise and nutrition strategies.