How to retrain your pelvic floor – today

Last modified on Thursday 9 July 2020

Advertisement Promotion

Hands up if you dread coughing, sneezing, laughing or bouncing on the trampoline with your child? Yep, we thought as much. A leaky bladder may make you wet your pants when you're out having fun but you CAN improve things. We've teamed up with lights by TENA to show you how ...

Among the jumble of baby wipes, squashed breadsticks and boxes of raisins, we all have a spare pair of pants tucked in our changing bags. But many of us don’t just take extra underwear for our kids wherever we go: we also have a spare pair of knickers for ourselves.

That's because it only takes a cough, sneeze or chuckle to remind us of our leaky bladder – oops!

The good news is that it's entirely possible – and easy – to retrain your pelvic floor. Spending just five minutes a day doing simple exercises can make a huge difference.

And you can also save yourself from any embarrassing moments thanks to lights by TENA liners. They are thin, discreet and super absorbent, now with new 5 in 1 Freshness, meaning little leaks don't have to spoil your day. With lights by TENA you can feel dry, whatever you're doing.* Order your free, discreet sample at .

Keep reading to find out why Oooops Moments™ affect so many of us mums as well as how to do those all-important pelvic floor exercises ...

How common is bladder incontinence?

Rest assured that urinary incontinence is incredibly common, affecting over three million women in the UK. The most common form is stress incontinence, a condition that often affects pregnant women and mums.

Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, meaning sometimes you feel nervous to run, join the kids on the trampoline or even sneeze due to the fear of having a little leak.

Danielle Lloyd has spoken in the past about her own experience of stress incontinence, saying:

'After four babies, it was not good... In the summer, I’d start sneezing and wet myself. I went to a trampoline park with the kids, jumped twice and wet myself.’

And Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha also revealed she has a leaky bladder. She says:

‘I’ve experienced incontinence ever since having my children – and 90% of women I’ve met who’ve had a baby say the same.’

The good news is there are lots of ways to improve things.

lights by TENA's partner physiotherapist Paula Igualada-Martinez says:

'Little leaks may affect women of all ages and occur mainly due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. They may be experienced during exercise, sneezing, coughing or laughing or during and after pregnancy.

‘That’s because during and after pregnancy the pelvic floor muscles have weakened. As these support your bladder, your bladder weakens too.

'After birth it might take you longer to locate your pelvic floor muscles and build them up. But pelvic floor exercises are a very easy way of managing your bladder mishaps by getting a stronger pelvic floor.’

What are pelvic floor exercises?

You probably heard about the importance of pelvic floor exercises – also known as kegel exercises – a thousand times during pregnancy.

And they really are your first weapon in the battle against stress incontinence.

Your pelvic floor muscles are the ones you feel if you try and stop weeing mid-stream.

To strengthen them, you just need to spend five minutes a day doing some simple squeezing and clenching exercises.

Doing these exercises regularly and correctly will help to improve your pelvic floor and you manage any Oooops moments™.

How do you do pelvic floor exercises?

The good news is pelvic floor exercises are super easy – and can be done with your baby in tow!

Paula explains how:

  • Lie or sit down on your own or with your baby and then try to squeeze and lift the pelvic floor muscles by closing and drawing forward the back and the front passages.
  • Hold for four seconds and then gradually increase that time for up to 10 seconds
  • Repeat 10 times.

When doing the pelvic floor exercises make sure you don't hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttocks or thigh muscles.

You can also try these other exercises to strengthen your bladder control.

How to prevent leaks when you laugh

  • Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as hard as you can.
  • Hold for one second and then relax for six seconds.
  • Repeat up to 10 times.

How to prevent leaks when you are racing to the loo

  • Squeeze and hold your pelvic floor muscles for as long as you can.
  • Repeat three times a day.

How often should you do pelvic floor exercises?

Every day!

‘Pelvic floor exercises are for life – think of them as a daily routine, just like brushing your teeth’, says Paula.

But don’t worry – they don’t take long and you don’t need any special equipment. Doing 10 sets, three times a day is ideal and the beauty of them is they can be done anywhere!

It’s a good idea to start the exercises lying down to start with – this makes it easier to feel if you’re using the right muscles.

Paula adds:

'It’s also important that the pelvic floor muscles are able to work fast so tighten them as quickly and as strongly as you can, then relax. Do this three times a day.’

How soon will the pelvic floor exercises work?

If you’re having little leaks, it’s understandable you want your pelvic floor muscles to do their job asap.

‘After 6-12 weeks of steady exercises women can already feel an improvement in their pelvic floor muscle’, says Paula.

‘But don’t worry too much about how long it takes to start feeling the strengthening – everybody is individual.’’

And if you are worried you’ll have a leaky moment, 'tighten your pelvic floor muscles before any activity that involves an Oooops moment™, like exercises or heavy lifting,’ she says.

How can you remember to do your pelvic floor exercises?

With a baby to look after, it’s easy to forget about your pelvic floor exercises. So why not download the FREE lights by TENA My Pelvic Floor Fitness App ( my PFF ) - available for iOS and Android.

It’s completely free and includes two exercises every day to help improve your bladder control, along with notifications reminding you when you should do them.

Paula’s expert tips are included on the app and she says, ‘women can use the lights by TENA pelvic floor fitness app, my PFF , to remind themselves to get pelvic floor exercises in their daily routine and cope with these Oooops moments™.'

3 other ways to help retrain your pelvic floor

1 Rebounding
If your pelvic floor is a bit dodgy, getting on a trampoline is probably the last thing you want to try.

But rebounding – bouncing on a mini trampoline – could actually make things better, rather than worse.

The key is to empty your bladder beforehand, and then gently engage your pelvic floor muscles while you bounce.

Make sure you’re holding your pelvic floor muscles lightly, rather than doing a full-strength clench, and just bounce for a couple of minutes at first, working up to longer sessions.

If you can’t manage this without needing dry knickers, then this could be a sign that your pelvic floor might need attention from a specialist women’s health physiotherapist.

2 Pilates
Pilates is renowned for strengthening core muscles – the 'girdle' of muscles around your middle – which is why many physiotherapists use it as part of a pelvic floor retraining regime.

Find a pilates class near you .

3 Physiotherapy
Another option is to talk to your GP and asked to referred for physiotherapy after giving birth.

This is likely to be at a specialist continence clinic where, after assessment, you’ll be taught pelvic floor training exercises.

Alternatively, you can ask to be referred to a private physiotherapist, or find a practitioner independently.

* 85% of 325 women felt confident they’d stay dry