Pregnancy can put a lot of stress on your pelvic floor muscles which can lead to incontinence. Performing Kegel exercises regularly during pregnancy can help prevent incontinence and help the birthing process. It is also recommended that Kegel exercises are done after pregnancy to promote healing and to improve bladder control.
The first step in Kegel exercises is identifying your pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles hold the bladder and many other organs in place. Below are methods you can use to check for the correct muscles:
- Imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine. The pull or lift you feel is the pelvic floor.
- Imagine you are trying to control passing gas. The pull or lift you are feeling is your pelvic floor muscles.
- Lying down, you can either place a tampon or finger inside your vagina or imagine a tampon or finger placed inside your vagina. Tighten the muscles around that object and feel that “lifting” sensation. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
In the beginning, check yourself frequently by placing your hand on your abdomen and buttocks to ensure that you do not feel your stomach, thigh or buttocks muscle move, this is a lift up, do not bear down. Performing Kegel exercises can be done anywhere – at a red light, in a waiting room or at your desk. It’s best to do these exercises during a relaxed time and make it a time of day that will turn into a habit. Continue practice of the Kegel exercise will keep your pelvic floor muscle strong.
Performing Kegel exercises
This exercise is best done after emptying your bladder and should be done in different positions such as lying down, standing and sitting for maximum benefit. Set aside three times a day for exercising: morning, noon and evening. There are two different Kegel exercises that can be done.
- Short Quick Kegel
- The muscles should lift up gradually for a count of 1 or 2 seconds
- Then fully relax the pelvic floor muscle back down for a count of 3 to 5 seconds
- Repeat before or after the Long Holding Kegel
- Start with 5 repetitions, 3 times daily; progress to 10 repetitions, 3 times daily
- Long Holding Kegel
- Start with pelvic floor muscles gently lifting and holding for 3 to 5 seconds
- Fully relax and rest the pelvic floor muscle for 3 to 5 seconds
- Start with 5 repetitions, 3 times daily
- Progression: keep increasing by 1 second/week until you can perform 10-second hold and relax 10 repetitions without fatigue
The goal is to work to incorporate these exercises into everyday activities as soon as you can. Some examples include: while you are standing and brushing your teeth, cutting up food in the kitchen, walking in the grocery store, driving in the car. You will not able to perform the exercises while you are doing other activities right away, but as you practice, it is important to incorporate this as soon as you can. Always remember to breath, gently lift your pelvic floor muscles up and in and do not bear down.
If you have any pain, difficulty performing or feel you are not performing the exercises correctly, contact your OB doctor or midwife, or call Prevea Therapy Institute
at (920) 272-3380 to schedule an appointment.