As a pregnant woman, you have probably had someone mention pelvic floor exercises to you.
You may be wondering to yourself just how important these strange pregnancy exercises are, or if they are just a current pregnancy fad. Well, the truth is that doing pelvic floor exercises can help your body while dealing with pregnancy, and even later in life.
Let’s put it another way: during your pregnancy, you’ve certainly been experiencing some symptoms that are obvious and noticeable, like fatigue, nausea and, eventually, your baby bump! If you’re only recently pregnant, just wait and see—that bump will be more than noticeable! But you also need to remember that there are a lot of things happening inside your body that you may not be able to see or feel, and stress on the pelvic floor is one of these. So have a look and absorb all this useful information about pelvic floor exercises, how to do them, and why they are important.
Pelvic floor exercises: Can’t get no satisfaction
Though kegel exercises may have a reputation for being “sexercises,” that’s only part of the story. Sure, having strong pelvic floor muscles can lead to increased sexual satisfaction and greater chance of having an orgasm during intercourse (so you’ll actually be getting plenty of satisfaction!), but there are also strong health implications. To explain this in more detail, let’s talk about what exactly the pelvic floor muscles are and why they are important. Here are some basic facts about pelvic floor muscles and how they relate to your health and comfort:
- The pelvic floor is made up of all the muscles, ligaments, and other tissues that extend from your pubic bone to the base of your spine.
- They are sometimes called a “trampoline” because they are very flexible and can bounce back into position after some pressure. But they can become weak and stretched over time, especially due to pregnancy.
- These muscles support your uterus, bladder and bowels, and they are what you use to control the “outflow” of urine, excrement, and gas.
- A weak pelvic floor, which affects many women during pregnancy, can cause some unwanted “escapes” of pee, poo or gas. This happens especially when you cough, sneeze, or perform a strenuous activity.There is also a condition called pelvic girdle pain that affects some pregnant women.
- Your bowel, bladder, and womb aren’t well sustained when you have a weak pelvic floor, which can cause discomfort and health issues after pregnancy.
- Luckily, these muscles can be strengthened using easy pelvic floor exercises!
- And having a stronger pelvic floor makes recovery after pregnancy much easier, especially in healing the perineum (the skin and tissue in between your vagina and your anus), which gets stretched out and can even tear during labour.
- Hormonal changes during menopause often lead to further weakening of the pelvic floor, which can lead to something called prolapse of the uterus, the bowel, or the bladder. Prolapse is when the organs collapse into the walls of the vagina because they are unsupported. This usually requires a surgical fix.
Pelvic floor exercises: Let’s get physical!
That’s right, it’s time to learn all about the Kegel exercises and other pregnancy exercises that can keep your pelvic floor strong throughout your pregnancy, and beyond. The first exercise that you need to master is finding your pelvic floor muscles. Luckily, finding them and using them are one in the same. Here’s how you do this first exercise:
- Sit on a hard surface, like a firm chair or on the edge of a table, with your back upright.
- Now it gets a bit strange: pretend that you are trying to keep yourself from passing gas and having a wee, all at the same time.
- You should be squeezing all these internal muscles without clenching your buttocks and thighs, or sucking in your tummy.
- You will feel an upward, lifting movement from the muscles, and possibly some vaginal trembling.
- Try holding the squeeze for a few seconds, and then releasing so you can really feel the difference between the tensed muscles and the relaxed ones.
- If you can’t feel them while in a seated position, try this activity while lying down instead. It’s usually more noticeable this way for beginners, and you can work your way up to a seated position.
- There is another way for you to double check that you’re doing the pelvic floor exercises correctly, but you should only try it if your doctor has told you that it is okay for you to have sex during pregnancy, and if you don’t have any infections in your vagina or bladder. When taking a warm bath, simply insert a finger into your vagina and try the exercise. If you feel a squeezing and gentle lifting around your finger, then you’re doing it correctly.
Once you have mastered the basic “find, squeeze, and hold” exercise, you can move on to more advanced techniques, which you should try to practice each day. You can try doing the “hula hoop,” where you move your hips as if you had a hula hoop, while keeping your pelvic muscles tense. Additionally, exercise balls are a great tool. You can work on holding your kegel muscles tight while balancing in a seating, face-down-lying position, or face-up-laying position. Finally, if you’ve been doing prenatal yoga, this provides a perfect opportunity to keep working on your pelvic floor muscle squeezes, especially in positions that require abdominal and back stretches.
By doing these simple pregnancy exercises for just a few minutes every day, you will almost certainly have a pelvic floor that can resist all the pressure of your baby during pregnancy.
As a beginner practicing these pregnancy exercises, you will probably want to hold your breath as you squeeze. Try to work on taking some deep breaths in and out while you keep your muscles tensed—remember that when you’re pregnant, you will be most vulnerable to “leakages” when you’re coughing, sneezing, or doing some kind of strenuous activity.
Performing pelvic floor exercises may be a new and unusual experience for you. But don’t be shy about doing these kinds of pregnancy exercises every day, and even talking to other women about them. The health and comfort benefits of having a strong pelvic floor will help you not only during your pregnancy, but also after delivery, and even much later in life. Spreading the information about pelvic floor exercises can help other women make their lives better, too. You should be proud of your strong kegel muscles!