Yesterday I was aghast when my pregnant client said to me, “I haven’t been doing my Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) during this pregnancy because I know I am having a c-section”. NO! This statement is absolutely false. Unless your healthcare provider tells you differently, every pregnant and postpartum mama should practice pelvic floor exercises once or twice a day, especially if experiencing light incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscles are the base of your core, they hold the bladder, womb and lower bowel in place. Regardless if you are having a natural birth or a cesarean, during pregnancy these muscles are stressed on a daily basis and may weaken. Signs that your pelvic floor is weakened includes some degree of urine leakage (urinary incontinence) when you laugh, cough, sneeze, jump, run or lift something heavy. Here’s a few tips on how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles:
How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises – Kegels
It takes diligence to identify your pelvic floor muscles and learn how to contract and relax them. Here are some pointers:
- Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.
- Perfect your technique. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and lie on your back – or on your side. Gently lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Next lift and squeeze the PF muscles, while holding muscles contracted pulse up to 5 times. Work up to five minutes straight, alternating these two types of exercises.
- Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on lifting and squeezing only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
- Repeat 2 times a day.
*Don’t make a habit of using Kegel exercises to start and stop your urine stream. Doing Kegel exercises while emptying your bladder can actually weaken the muscles, as well as lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder — which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.
Make Kegel exercises part of your daily routine. You can do Kegel exercises discreetly just about anytime, whether you’re sitting in your car or checking email.
When You Are Having Trouble
If you’re having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor or other health care provider can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles. In some cases, biofeedback training might help and your physician can refer you to a women’s health specialist.
At Active Moms’ Club we focus on building and maintaining core strength, including the pelvic floor muscles in our prenatal classes and postnatal classes. Every little bit counts to regain AND maintain healthy strength in your pelvic floor.
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Other related articles from Active Moms’ Club blog:
Mom’s Expecting Body: A Few FAQs – And How Exercise Can Benefit You & Your Baby
Mom’s New Postpartum Body: From Baby Blues to Kegels, A Few Favorite FAQs
Diastasis Recti: From How To Assess To Safe Exercise To Heal, A Few Favorite FAQs