Researchers now say strong pelvic floor muscles may actually facilitate labor, thereby challenging the myth that strong pelvic floor muscles obstruct labor.
Previous studies have shown pregnant women who exercise their pelvic floor muscles can prevent urinary incontinence. A recent study done consisted of 301 healthy first-time pregnant women. Half of the women took part in an intensive pelvic floor muscle training program between the 20th and 36th week of pregnancy. These women trained for 60 minutes once a week with a physiotherapist and were advised to perform eight to 12 intense contractions twice a day on their own. The other half of the sample served as the control.
AdvertisementResearchers looked at the length of the second stage of labor, measured by the time of active pushing, and the number of prolonged deliveries, which were defined as longer than 60 minutes of active pushing. Thirty-eight percent of the women in the control group had a prolonged delivery compared to just 24 percent in the training group.
However, there was no significant difference in the length of the second stage of labor between the two groups, 40 minutes compared to 45 minutes. Thus researchers conclude that even though these results have borderline significance, they show that intensive training of the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy facilitates rather than obstructs labor, as well as improves control and flexibility of muscles.