Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder and bowel. Nature intends the pelvic floor muscles to relax somewhat during pregnancy to prepare for delivery of the baby. The problem is that the pelvic floor is responsible for supporting the weight of your ever growing uterus throughout pregnancy, and unless these muscles are trained sufficiently this weakness can lead to some unwanted side effects. Women who neglect to strengthen their pelvic floor may experience leaking of urine as the pregnancy progresses, especially when sneezing, laughing or coughing, making for some pretty embarrassing situations during allergy season or anytime somebody cracks a joke.
In addition to preventing pregnancy related incontinence, Kegels can also make the birthing process easier, because once you have practiced exercising your pelvic floor muscles; you’ll know how to release them. Releasing not only makes labor more comfortable, it also helps you avoid tearing these tissues during the birth when baby’s head moves through the vagina. Less tearing leads to a quicker recovery, which will help your body to bounce back in no time at all.
Kegels exercises are great because you can do them discreetly anytime or anywhere. This leaves no excuse not to do them. They are without a doubt the most important exercise you can do during pregnancy. Think of Kegels in the same way you think about brushing your teeth, something you absolutely have to do everyday. Get started today with the 5 variations listed below.
5 KEGEL PROGRESSIONS FOR THE PREGNANT WOMAN
1. Stop and Go. Imagine feeling as if you are trying to stop your urine flow. Do not attempt to do this while you are actually urinating, but try to replicate the feeling from a seated position. This exercise is great to squeeze in during TV commercials or when you’re stuck in traffic or stopped at a signal while driving. Start with 10 repetitions 3 times a day, eventually progressing to 25 repetitions 3 times a day.
2. Hold and Count. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for a 5-count, then release. Repeat ten times. Gradually increase the length of time you squeeze until you can hold for a 10-count for ten repetitions in a row.
3. Elevators.This exercise takes some concentration and practice, but the results are worth the effort. Your vagina is a muscular tube, with the sections arranged like rings one on top of another. Imagine each section as a different “floor” of a building, and that you are moving an elevator up and down by tensing each section, getting progressively higher. Start by slowly bringing the elevator up to the second floor and holding for a second, then move up to the third, and so on, until you get to the fifth floor. Hold. Now bring the elevator down, floor-by-floor, “resting” at each floor, to the first floor (the starting point). Then make a trip to the basement, where your pelvic floor is completely relaxed.
4. Waves.Some of the pelvic floor muscles are arranged in a sort of extended figure-eight pattern (like an eight with three loops instead of two). One of the loops is around your urethra, one around your vagina, and one around your anus. A good Kegel exercise is to contract these muscles from front to back, and release from back to front.
5. Posturing.Once you become proficient at Kegel exercises, try them in a variety of postures — lying down, sitting up, squatting, or tailor sitting(cross-legged). Even better to combine your Kegels with pelvic tilts from an all-fours position. Contract while arching your back and lifting your chin, relax while rounding your back and tucking your chin to your chest. Breathe deeply.
Start practicing your Kegels this very instant and stay consistent. I promise you will be glad you did come delivery!