One area that tends to get overlooked, but is incredibly important for a smooth pregnancy and delivery, is the pelvic floor.
The muscles and tissues that make up the pelvic floor play a critical role in supporting the bladder, uterus, and bowel, as well as aiding in sexual function.
However, these muscles can weaken during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to issues like urinary incontinence and prolapse.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy is essential and share some tips on how to do it effectively.
Introduction to Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles undergo a lot of stress that can cause them to weaken.
This can lead to problems such as incontinence and prolapse, which is why strengthening these muscles is crucial during this time.
Pelvic floor exercises are a safe and effective way to improve the strength and coordination of these muscles. In this section, you will learn about the basics of pelvic floor exercises, why they are important during pregnancy, and how to do them correctly.
Keep reading to discover how pelvic floor exercises can help improve your health and wellbeing during and after pregnancy.
Understanding the Pelvic Floor Muscles
In order to effectively strengthen the pelvic floor during pregnancy, it’s crucial to understand the muscles involved. The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that support the organs in the pelvis, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum.
During pregnancy, these muscles can become weakened due to hormonal changes, increased pressure from the growing uterus, and the strain of giving birth.
To properly strengthen the pelvic floor, it’s important to engage these muscles through exercises like Kegels. By doing so, women can improve their bladder control and reduce their risk of pelvic floor dysfunction.
It’s important to note that while Kegels are a great starting point for pelvic floor exercises, there are other exercises that can target the muscles from different angles.
By incorporating a variety of exercises and staying consistent, pregnant women can set themselves up for a strong and healthy pelvic floor.
Importance of Strengthening Pelvic Floor During Pregnancy
As pregnancy progresses, the weight and pressure on these muscles increase, and without proper strengthening, there is a risk of developing incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or other complications during childbirth.
Pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, provide an effective way to strengthen the muscles and ensure they are functioning properly. These exercises also improve circulation to the pelvic area and can enhance sexual function postpartum.
By prioritizing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, women can set a foundation for better overall health and prevent potential issues down the road.
How to Do Kegel Exercises Correctly
In order to strengthen the pelvic floor during pregnancy, Kegel exercises are a safe and effective option to consider.
To perform Kegels correctly, it’s important to first identify the pelvic floor muscles. The proper technique involves squeezing and lifting from the vaginal opening up toward the cervix, holding for three to five seconds, and then relaxing for the same amount of time.
It’s helpful to imagine sitting on a marble, lifting and holding the muscles inward and upward. Another tip is to try doing Kegels while lying on your back with your knees bent.
However, it’s important to avoid common mistakes such as bearing down or holding your breath. Along with Kegels, there are other pelvic floor exercises worth trying.
By committing to regular pelvic floor exercise routines, motivated moms can benefit from greater control during labor and delivery, as well as decreased risk of pelvic floor problems later on.
It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise regimen during pregnancy.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Kegel Exercises
One of the most significant issues people face is not being consistent. Like any other exercise regimen, Kegel exercises also require regular and dedicated practice.
Often, people misinterpret the Kegel regimen and perform it incorrectly. Some folks tend to squeeze their buttocks or thighs, which could lead to injury.
Another mistake is breathing incorrectly during exercises, which can reduce the effectiveness of Kegel exercises. Bearing down instead of lifting during the Kegel exercises is also a common mistake.
Lastly, not finding and using the pelvic floor correctly can lead to less than optimal results. By avoiding these common mistakes, people can achieve more significant benefits from Kegel exercises and improve their pelvic health for better sex life and postpartum outcomes.
Other Pelvic Floor Exercises to Try
In addition to Kegels, there are other exercises that can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy.
Plie squats, for example, engage the deep pelvic floor rotators, inner thighs, and glutes at different angles to support your pelvic floor.
Heel slides are another option and can help both strengthen and lengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Practicing quick flick Kegels can also be helpful in training the muscles to contract quickly and effectively.
It’s important to find exercises that work for you and to listen to your body – if something feels uncomfortable or causes pain, stop and consult with your healthcare provider.
Experiment with different exercises and find a routine that works for you to help keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Best Times to do Pelvic Floor Exercises
When it comes to strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy, the timing of your exercises can make a difference.
As highlighted in the previous sections, pelvis floor exercises such as Kegels help to tone and strengthen the muscles that support your pelvic organs, aid bladder and bowel control, and can even improve sexual function.
So, when is the best time to do them? Well, according to experts, it’s recommended to aim for three sessions each day, ideally spaced throughout the day, to allow your muscles to rest in between.
A good time to do your exercises is after you’ve emptied your bladder, as a full bladder can interfere with your ability to correctly perform the exercises.
Other recommended times include during activities such as brushing your teeth or preparing a meal.
Consistency is key to seeing results, so finding times that work for you and making it a part of your daily routine can help you stay motivated and committed to strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
Tips for Staying Motivated to do Pelvic Floor Exercises
It can be difficult to stick to a regular routine of pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, but there are ways to stay motivated. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:
Firstly, set a reminder for yourself to do the exercises. This can be as simple as setting an alarm on your phone or leaving a sticky note somewhere visible.
Secondly, find a friend or family member who can hold you accountable. Knowing that someone else is checking in on your progress can provide extra motivation to keep going.
Thirdly, mix up your exercises to keep things interesting. There are many variations of Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises that you can try.
Fourthly, track your progress. Keep a record of how long you can hold each contraction or how many reps you can do. Seeing improvements over time can be a great motivator.
Fifthly, make the exercises a part of your daily routine. Try doing them at the same time every day, such as during your morning shower or while watching TV in the evening.
Lastly, remember the benefits of pelvic floor exercises. Strengthening these muscles can lead to better bladder and bowel control, reduced risk of prolapse, and improved sexual function. Keep these benefits in mind as you work towards a stronger pelvic floor.
Precautions to Take with Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy
When doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, it is important to take necessary precautions to avoid any harm or discomfort.
It is recommended to start with just a few repetitions and gradually increase over time rather than overexerting yourself too quickly.
It is also advised to avoid any activities that put excessive pressure on the pelvic floor such as horseback riding, jumping or heavy lifting.
Additionally, it is important to make sure you are performing the exercises correctly and not relying solely on advice from friends or family. If you experience any pain or discomfort while doing pelvic floor exercises, stop immediately and consult with your healthcare provider.
Lastly, it is essential to continue doing the exercises even after giving birth to maintain strong pelvic floor muscles.
By following these precautions and incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your routine, you can help prevent or alleviate issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
When to Seek Help for Pelvic Floor Problems
In some cases, pelvic floor exercises may not be enough to address certain problems. If you experience persistent pain, discomfort, or urinary and fecal incontinence, it’s important to seek medical help.
Other warning signs include a sudden change in pelvic floor symptoms, such as increased frequency or urgency to urinate, pain during intercourse, or persistent leaking.
Your healthcare provider can assess your condition and recommend appropriate treatment, such as specialized physical therapy, medication, or surgery.
Seeking help early on can help prevent further complications and improve your quality of life during and after pregnancy. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!