You may not realize it, but your pelvic floors are involved in a lot of physical activities that you do on a daily basis. It supports all of your pelvic organs above, and any movement you do takes a toll on your pelvic muscles. Keeping this group of muscles strong is something anyone can benefit from. This is especially true for pregnant women. But how exactly do you do that? Turns out, doing Kegel exercises has a lot of benefits! And doing them during pregnancy is an easy and effective solution.
So What’s Up with Your Pelvic Muscles during Pregnancy?
You’re carrying another human being, so it’s not surprising to know that there’s a tremendous amount of added stress on your body when you’re pregnant. As you get closer to your labor day, your pelvic muscles are working overtime to support not just your organs, but also the growing baby inside your uterus. And occasionally, they’re not really ready for such a taxing job. So you may notice that sometimes your pee leaks out when you sneeze or laugh.
It’s quite embarrassing when it happens in a public place, and you don’t really have spare undies in your bag. But the hassle doesn’t just stop there. It gets even worse once you give birth. Your pelvic muscles are even going to be further stretched once you push out your baby. And yes, your bladder control also gets a beating. If wearing adult diapers isn’t exactly your kind of thing, then you best be working on some of these simple Kegel exercises during your pregnancy. They’re quick, simple and can be done in the safety of your homes.
What are Kegel Exercises Anyway?
Let’s put it this way. Kegel exercises are the work out for your pelvic floor, which supports your pelvic organs and genitals. This includes your bladder, uterus, rectum, and, small intestines. It’s a group of muscles, right? So the more you use it, the stronger it gets. In this case, the idea is that you squeeze and relax your pelvic muscles repeatedly to tone and develop them.
Benefits of Kegel Exercise During Pregnancy
Aside from making sure you don’t accidentally pee your pants when laughing, coughing, or sneezing, pregnant women can reap off many other benefits from Kegel exercises. Here are some of those:
- Helpful in your ninth month of pregnancy because it relaxes the pelvic floor, resulting in a shortened second phase of labor as your body tries to push your baby out
- There’s lesser risk of requiring episiotomy (the surgical cut needed to help with childbirth)
- Better support for the growing baby
- Beneficial for a proper bowel movement, leading to minimized risk of hemorrhoids and offers relief from constipation
How to Locate the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Okay, so you know by now the importance of keeping your pelvic floor in good condition. But the problem is that you’re not sure how to locate them. We’re teaching you the fastest way to find this group of muscles. The next time you find yourself peeing, stop yourself mid-way abruptly. The muscles you used to stop the flow of your stream of pee are the same muscles you’re supposed to be targeting in Kegel exercises. Just a word of precaution though, only do this experiment once or twice since doing it more than a few times can be bad for your bladder.
The innermost abdominal muscle is called the transversus abdominis or “transverse.” It encircles your trunk like a corset. This is the muscle that involuntarily contracts when you sneeze. The action of this muscle is forward and backward. Such an act compresses the abdominal cavity. And thus, strengthening this muscle can help you push during labor.
However, the primary muscle of the pelvic floor lies in a figure “8” around the openings of the urethra, vagina, and rectum. Now, doing kegel exercises strengthens the pelvic-floor muscles. It also helps prevent involuntary urination, which is a common problem after giving birth.
Best Kegel and Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy
Once you know which muscles you’re supposed to be targeting, the rest is pretty easy. The beauty of Kegel and pelvic floor exercises is that you can do them practically anywhere—at home, at work, or even in the office. You can do them lying down, sitting, or standing up, as long you’re in a comfortable position. Kegel exercises will teach you how to work your muscles individually. This, in turn, helps you out during the “pushing phase” of labor. Ideally, once you master the art of relaxing and controlling your pelvic floor muscles, this will help let the baby out easier.
There are several Kegel and pelvic floor routines you can experiment with, and these exercises have their own benefits. Do these exercises at least three times a day. Perform ten repetitions of each move, and as you get used to it, upgrade it to twenty repetitions until you’re confident that you’re strong enough. Try all of them and see which one works best for you.
1 Inhale, Exhale, Belly Breathing
How To: Put your hands on your belly. Sit with your legs crossed. Make sure that your lower back is supported. Keep your back and shoulders still, then slowly inhale through your nose. Expand your belly as you’re inhaling then as you exhale through your mouth, draw in your abdominals, bringing your navel toward your spine.
Benefits: This will strengthen your abs and pelvic floor muscles for an easier delivery. It will also lower your risk for involuntary urination later on post-delivery.
2 Horizontal Belly Dancing (On All Fours)
How To: Lay down a mat on the floor. Get down on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be under your shoulders, and your knees should be a hip-width apart. Keep your back straight and breathe in. Draw your abdominals up. Bring your navel toward your spine. Then, hold. Breathe normally. Tilt your pelvis under. Bring your pubic bone toward your navel. Hold again and then count to five. When you complete the final repetition, stand up by stepping one foot forward and push off your thigh with both hands.
Benefits: The benefit that you will get from this kegel exercise is the strengthening of your abdominals as well as your back and upper body, which will help you in labor.
3 The Transverse Elevator
How To: Sit with your lower back supported. Put one hand on your upper belly and the other near your navel. Imagine your transverse is a horizontal elevator with six “floors.” Inhale, then exhale. Draw your abs toward your spine to the fifth floor. Hold and count out loud to 30. Do five squeezes from the fifth to the sixth floor.
Benefits: This will strengthen your abs, especially the transverse, which provides for the needed stamina when you’re pushing the baby out.
4 Squat Power Duo
How To: Hold a fixed object, such as a pillar or a sturdy chair. Stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart. Then, lower your body into a deep squat. Keep your weight over your heels. (If your heels do not touch the floor, place a towel under them.) Then, draw your abs in as you exhale. Repeat this combo five times.
Benefits: This will strengthen your abs, legs, and pelvic floor.
5 The Strong Hold
Simply squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and keep that position for as long as you can. Then let go of your hold for a few seconds. Keep repeating this 10 to 20 times. Don’t worry if at first, you can only do it for 3 seconds. Gradually, you may notice that your hold gets stronger, and the time you can keep it clenched also lasts longer. As you do the Kegel exercise, your contraction may loosen, and that’s okay. Simply focus on retightening the targeted muscles. Your contraction also gets stronger over time as you keep practicing.
6 3 seconds rule
As its name suggests, it’s a Kegel exercise for women where you clench your pelvic muscles for 3 seconds, then rest for 3 seconds. Do this several times in a row. This will benefit you as this kegel exercise will strengthen those muscles with continued practice.
7 Quick clench and rest
This is a fast-paced Kegel exercise that you could do during your pregnancy. Just abruptly clench your pelvic floor muscles then let go. Do it 10 times in a row and three times daily.
When Can You start with Kegel and Pelvic Floor Exercises?
If you’re pregnant or have just given birth, the best advice we can give you is to ask your medical provider first to find out which is the safest time for you to start with Kegel exercises. Usually, during pregnancy, you can perform Kegel exercises during the second trimester. That’s the time when moms-to-be are in need of some exercise. Once the baby is born through uncomplicated vaginal birth, you can start with Kegel exercises just after a few days. Otherwise, if you’ve had a C-section, you have to wait for the doctor’s go-signal.
Kegel Exercises for a Healthy Pregnancy
Staying fit and preparing yourself for motherhood can be quite a challenge. You’re bringing a new life into this world, so you need all the help you can get. There are so many benefits to doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy. It may be just what you need to keep your physical and mental health in top shape. You can do them with 100% discreetness, and it takes very little of your time.