All muscles need exercise, including your pelvic floor muscles. But what exactly are they and how do you give them a good work out?
Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, bowel, and uterus (also known as your womb).
Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to support your bladder and bowel better, especially during and after pregnancy.
Keep reading to discover the importance of this specific exercise!
Your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy
Your pelvic floor muscles work extra hard when you’re pregnant. This is because they support the weight of your growing little one, especially during your second and third trimester.
They work even harder during childbirth, during both vaginal delivery or cesarean.
While giving birth, your pelvic floor muscles experience a significant amount of stretching and strain. Similarly, your cesarean procedure can also lead to a slower recovery, and a weakened abdominal wall due to incisions made in the uterus and abdomen.
After giving birth, it’s normal for your pelvic floor to feel stretched and weakened. It normally takes around six weeks before your pelvic floor muscles start to recover. To help speed up this process, you need regular exercise, therapy, and sometimes even surgery.
In the next section, we’ll talk about the benefits of kegel exercises, and discuss tips on how you can do them correctly.
Why should I exercise my pelvic floor?
Having a healthy pelvic floor has many benefits.
For starters, when you exercise these muscles, you decrease muscle damage caused by carrying a growing baby, diminish the risk of injury during a vaginal birth, and increase the speed of recovery afterwards. You may even find sex more pleasurable, too!
That’s why it’s important you do kegel exercises even before you’re pregnant.
With a weak pelvic floor, you can accidentally leak from your bladder with a simple cough or sneeze, especially during and post-pregnancy. You may also experience pelvic girdle pain, a pain you feel over the pubic bone at the front in the centre, as well as lower back pain.
How do I do proper kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises are pretty simple and fast, plus you can do them without anyone knowing! You just have to be sure that you’re doing them correctly for them to be effective.
Now, imagine yourself trying to stop the flow of urination mid-pee. That’s exactly how kegel exercises should be done. Lift and hold your pelvic muscles for three seconds, then relax for three seconds.
In order to get the right technique, it’s important to take note of the following:
Make sure your bladder is empty.
You can do it while lying down, while sitting, or while standing. If you’re starting with a weak pelvic floor muscle, try it while laying down first.
Your breathing should go normally and freely here. Avoid holding your breath.
You should also try not to tighten the muscles in your stomach, back, buttocks, or thighs at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll target the wrong muscles.
Repeat this cycle 10 times, at least twice a day -- one in the morning, and another one at night. Once you’re to do this comfortably, try increasing your numbers to improve. For example, increase your time of holding to four seconds, then five. You may also consider doing it thrice a day, instead of two. For starters, you can begin doing it 5 times in a row, instead of 10.
If you’re having a hard time, you can also consider purchasing the Elvie Kegel trainer. It’s a smart pelvic floor trainer that helps you ensure you’re doing kegels correctly, and can even be connected to a mobile app where you can track your progress over time.
You can expect to see improvements, such as less urine leakage, within 12 weeks after starting these exercises!
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