Why Your Anal Muscles Weaken Postpartum

Peeing a little when you sneeze may seem like a funny joke, but it actually happens to a lot of women after pregnancy, due to the weakening of pelvic floor muscles. Because your pelvic floor includes the rectum, anus, and surrounding anal sphincter muscles, you may wonder if your anal muscles weaken after giving birth.

According to About Incontinence, the pelvic floor endures major changes during childbirth and delivery. Additionally, according to Parents, vagina tearing or episiotomy during birth can lead to a higher chance of soreness and weakening of anal muscles. In addition to discomfort, the aforementioned About Incontinence article noted that women who have episiotomies or tears often struggle with bowel control due to the weaker muscles. Additionally, an episiotomy actually increases the risk of a more severe (third or fourth degree) tear, according to Baby Center. Luckily, episiotomies are much less common today, as studies show that tearing naturally is much better for your body and the healing process than an incision before delivery. Episiotomies, as a result, are generally only performed if there is a medically necessary reason.

Even without an episiotomy, however, that doesn't completely eliminate the chance of a third or fourth degree tear. These tears are much deeper and do have a much more prominent effect on the pelvic floor, including anal muscles. According to the aforementioned Baby Center article, only around four percent of women experience that severe of a tear. But for those who do, the tears can cause more pain and even up your chances of anal incontinence.

So in a nutshell, it's very plausible that you may struggle with anal muscle strength postpartum. But after obtaining the OK from your doctor, you can proceed with workouts, like Kegels, to gain back muscle strength.