There are some women who avoid exercise during pregnancy, as they are worried that doing so might harm the baby. If you are one of them, please know that your doctor might require you some pregnancy exercises for various reasons. You might have heard of pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, and you might be astounded by their benefits when you do them both during and after pregnancy.
There are things you can’t do any more while pregnant such as carrying heavy things, but if you’re looking for a good exercise that’s good for you, Pelvic Floor Exercises should be one of them.
Pelvic Floor Exercises—What is It?
It is recommended that you start doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. The reason is that, as your baby grows, more pressure is placed on your pelvic floor muscles and so it is better to start early. Basically, pelvic floor exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which support your bladder, uterus, and rectum. These exercises include squeezing and relaxing your muscles. These exercises are easy to do and you don’t even have to go to the gym and train your muscles. Pelvic floor exercises can be done in your home and as part of your daily routine.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pregnant or not, pelvic floor exercises are extremely beneficial. Here are some of the advantages of these exercises while you’re pregnant:
- Improved bladder control. Urinary incontinence or leaking urine during and after pregnancy is not uncommon to most women. This happens when you feel the strong urge to pee and it leaks even before you reach the bathroom. Stress incontinence, or leaking a few drops of urine while coughing, laughing, or sneezing also occurs in some women. This condition can be minimized when you do pelvic floor exercises.
- Lowered risk of bowel incontinence. Leaking stool before you reach the bathroom, otherwise known as bowel incontinence is also a condition not uncommon during and after pregnancy. As pelvic floor exercises include strengthening of rectal muscles, the risk of experiencing this condition is significantly reduced.
- Strong pelvic organ support. The muscles of your pelvic floor are out under a lot of strain during pregnancy and childbirth. If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, your chances of experiencing pelvic organ prolapse (a condition where the organs in the pelvis bulge into the vagina that cause extreme pain and discomfort) are high. With pelvic floor exercises, your pelvic muscles are strengthened and therefore reduces the risk of prolapse.
Exercising Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
So how are you going to do the pelvic floor exercises? First of all, you need to identify which are your pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles you use when you control your pee and your poop. The hormonal changes in your pregnancy causes them to loosen which makes it hard to control your bladder and sometimes even the bowel. To exercise, try to do the following first:
- Squeezing your bottom as if you are controlling your poop
- Squeezing as if you are controlling your pee
- Squeezing as if you’re trying to grip a tampon in your vagina.
Easy, right? You can do them anytime you want, anywhere.
Slow Squeeze Pelvic Floor Exercise
The Slow Squeeze is recommended during pregnancy. This does not help support your pelvic organs—it also helps support your growing baby.
- Tighten your pelvic floor muscles slowly, lifting them inwards and upwards.
- Continue to lift your torso and pelvis up into your tummy.
- Hold it for 4 seconds and then slowly release it.
- If you’re having trouble holding the squeeze for this long and there’s nothing left to release, start with a shorter time and work your way up to 4 seconds.
- Increase the length of the hold gradually. Make sure you’ve got some of the squeeze remaining to release and that you can slowly release at the end of the workout.
It might be a challenge at first to hold the squeeze for a long time, but gradually increase the time and ensure that you release it slowly.
Quick Squeeze Pelvic Floor Exercise
- This is the exercise that will help you avoid those unwanted urine leakages.
- Squeeze the muscles inwards and upwards in one rapid contraction to tighten and elevate your pelvic floor.
- Before slowly releasing, pause.
- At the end, thoroughly relax.
- Try to keep the same pace and strength for each repeat as the first.
Keep in mind to breathe normally when you are doing these exercises.
Pelvic floor exercise might be a little secret that you can keep, but it definitely has a huge advantage when you do them regularly. No one should know that you are working hard on these exercises. Just like any other forms of pregnancy exercises (e.g. prenatal yoga), pelvic floor exercises have a great impact when it comes to your overall physical and mental health. Remember, anything you do to keep your body moving and stay fit will definitely help you prepare for childbirth and motherhood.
While you exercise, don’t forget to keep a healthy diet too by eating the best food to eat during pregnancy.