Kegel exercises will help you to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, an essential conditioning for when you are pregnant and going to give birth. The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and the rectum. If you leak a little urine when you sneeze or cough, Kegel exercises, done correctly will help you.
Can I Do Kegel Exercises While Pregnant?
Answer: Yes You Definitely Should Be!
Having a strong pelvic floor can help you to give birth as well as recover after the event. So if you want to avoid a prolapsed uterus in later years, have a better sex life and a potentially easier birth, read on! This image is from Wikipedia, click here if you would like to view the original image.
What Is Your Pelvic Floor And Why Is It So Important?
Your pelvic floor stretches from your pubic bone in the front of your body to the base of your spine at the back. It is a broad sling of muscles and ligaments that acts a lot like a trampoline supporting your bladder, bowel and uterus – this means keeping them inside where they belong.
When you are pregnant, the extra weight of your baby and the bodily fluids that accompany pregnancy can stretch and put pressure on your pelvic floor. If these muscles are not strong they can become over stretched and weakened. If your pelvic floor is weakened, you will find it difficult to stop urine escaping because you cannot squeeze the sphincters at the bottom of your bladder shut. Do you leak a little wee when you sneeze, cough or exercise?
You may find that as your pregnancy progresses it is more difficult for you to hold your bladder and squeeze your muscles shut. This is called stress incontinence. It may not end once you have had your baby. Post natal stress incontinence affects up to a third of all new moms.
Your pelvic floor is so important because it gives you control over when you empty your bladder and bowels.
In later life, a strong pelvic floor is even more important. If your muscles are weak, your uterus may sag down and push on the walls of your vagina. This is known as a prolapse and affects more than thirty percent of women over the age of fifty.
If you are thinking so far that you can live with a little incontinence, that its not so bad. Your Mom crosses her legs when she needs to sneeze and it never killed her right? Well, better pelvic floor muscles give you better sex. While its sex that got you into your present predicament, and it might not be on your to do list right now, one day in the future it’s going to be. Need we say more?
Doing Kegel Exercises – How To Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
When you are first trying to identify where your pelvic floor muscles are, you should try to stop your urine mid-stream. If you can successfully stop the flow, you have located your pelvic floor muscles. Do not use this method to try and strengthen your pelvic floor. If you do your Kegel exercises while you empty your bladder you can weaken the muscles, leave your bladder not completely empty and risk a urinary tract infection.
Another method is to place your finger into your vagina and squeeze your vaginal wall muscles. You should feel the muscles tighten and your pelvic floor will move up. Relax and the pelvic floor should move back down. Just like a trampoline.
You’ve Found The Muscles – What Next?
- Once you have emptied your bladder lie on your back and tighten those same muscles. Hold the contraction for five seconds and then relax for five seconds. Repeat five more times.
- Be careful to avoid contracting other muscle groups in the area, its easy to tighten your anus, your buttocks, your legs and your abdomen. Breathe normally and focus on only tightening your pelvic floor.
- Don’t get stressed out if you aren’t getting it right all the time at first, or if you struggle to hold it for only five seconds. Find out where you are up to, if two seconds is your limit for sets of five that’s ok. Start with two seconds and work your way up to longer time frames.
The Best Part About Kegel Exercises?
Apart from your uterus staying putt as you age and better sex post baby, the best part about Kegel exercises is that you can do them anywhere. Once you have the hang of them and can identify the muscles you can do them at the bus stop, checking your email, at the traffic lights. Make them a part of your daily routine and aim for three sets of repetitions daily.
Help! I Can’t Isolate My Pelvic Floor And I Don’t Think I Am Doing Them Right
It’s ok! Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. One way or another, if you have trouble your doctor will be checking out your pelvic floor. Better for her to be helping you work out how to do Kegel’s now rather than diagnosing a prolapsed uterus when you’re in your fifties.
Your doctor or health care professional can help you isolate the correct muscles and work on exercising your pelvic floor. Biofeedback is how doctors will often provide assistance. A small probe is inserted into your rectum or vagina and you will be instructed to relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles. The monitor will measure your activity and your health care professional will help you work on your muscles from there.
A doctor can also use electrical stimulation to help you identify the correct muscles. During this process, a small electrical current adheres to the pelvic floor muscles and automatically contracts the muscles. If you’re having trouble, talk to a health care professional. You aren’t alone and being proactive about pelvic floor health is a much better option than living with a leaky bladder.
When To Expect Results
If you have been doing Kegel exercises regularly in a few months you will notice results such as less frequent urine leakage. Some women will notice a dramatic improvement, and other women will find it takes longer to get results. No matter what your circumstances, you should make your Kegel exercises a life time habit.
I’ve Mastered The Basics And I’m Getting Results – What Next?
Once you’ve got the hang of it the sky is the limit. Try to work up to 200 times a day for your Kegel exercises. Do quick and slow versions of the exercise. Practice holding your muscles up to twenty seconds and then relaxing them for twenty seconds in repetitions of twenty.
Incorporate “pull-in” Kegel exercises to your routine. Think of your pelvic floor as a vacuum, tense your butt and pull in your legs. Hold this for five seconds and release. Don’t forget you are using your pelvic floor like a vacuum so you should be pulling in hard as you do the exercise. Repeat ten times. While this is not so easy to do at a red traffic light or checking your emails at the office it can be complementary to all those discrete Kegels you are doing in your daily running around.
Another option is to imagine you are holding back the urge to urinate. Lift and squeeze from the inside and hold it for the count of three. Next try to imagine that you are holding back from passing wind. Lift and squeeze your anus for a count of three. Once you’ve got the hang of it, combine these two movements into one fluid wave. Starting at the front lift and squeeze without letting go move to the back, lift squeeze and hold for ten seconds. Breathe! Relax for ten seconds then repeat ten to twenty times. As it becomes easier you will be able to hold it for longer and complete more reps.
Once you have the hang of these you can start practicing your Kegel exercises mastering the muscles up the barrel of your vaginal wall.
Having a good, strong pelvic floor is going to make your pregnancy more comfortable, your birth easier and help you to manage incontinence after the birth of your child and in later life. Taking control and mastering pelvic floor exercises will benefit you today and in the long run. If you want more information on what exercises can assist you during pregnancy, check out our other posts.