Your pelvic muscles play an important role during your delivery. They also have a role in holding your uterus, rectum and bladder in place. Pelvic muscle controls urine leakage when you cough or laugh.
Pushing the baby through your pelvic stresses you and also your pelvic muscles. Fortunately, experts suggest kegel exercise for pregnancy to prevent problems with pelvic muscles before and after birth of the baby and this can help in making your labour go smoother.
What is Kegel Exercise?
Kegel exercise involves squeezing and relaxing muscles of the pelvic area, it is the form of pelvic floor exercise. This helps pelvic muscle to provide support to the bladder, rectum, uterus and small intestine. Performing this exercise during and after pregnancy will help in strengthening bladder and bowel and will also improve functionality of these organs. This exercise will surely help you throughout your life but you may want to start this during your pregnancy when pelvic muscles may need strengthening.
The best part is, you don’t require to go to the gym for this, you can practice kegels pregnancy exercise daily at home.
Benefits of Kegel exercise for pregnancy
Improve pelvic organs: As your baby grows in your uterus, pelvic floor muscles have to hold more weight. Sometimes, they are not fully functional. When pelvic muscle is overburdened there can be occasional urine leakage, during sneezing or coughing or going for a jog because the muscles are not able to support your bladder.
During your labor the pelvic muscles will stretch even more to make space for the baby to pass through. According to the researchers around one third of the women have faced tearing in the pelvic muscles tissue during birth. It will not look any different from outside but it can lead to postpartum loss of bladder control. For the treatment of this your doctor may suggest kegels exercise for normal delivery.
Strengthening bladder and rectal muscles: Kegels exercise postpartum and during pregnancy help in strengthening the bladder and rectal muscles to prevent the condition of fecal or urinary incontinence that can cause leakage of feces or urine before you reach the bathroom.
How to do Kegel Exercise?
Know what is pelvic muscle: To find the pelvic muscle try stopping urination and to do so you have to tighten a muscle, this muscle is the pelvic muscle which you need to contract.
If you are still not sure, insert your clean finger in your vagina and squeeze the muscle, if you are doing Kegel correctly, your vaginal muscle or pelvic muscle will contract around your finger.
Still not sure? Ask your doctor to coach you and don’t hesitate.
Here are few different styles to do Kegel exercise:
Contract the pelvic muscle and release: Tighten and release the pelvic floor muscle several times, continuously in a row.
Long hold, relax and repeat: Squeeze your pelvic muscle, hold for some seconds and relax. Repeat this a few times. Initially you will be able to hold only for 2 or 3 seconds. But as you practise over a few weeks, you will be able to increase the hold time to upto 10 seconds.
You can repeat this 10 times in a row, if facing any difficulty, start by doing fewer times.
Increase the intensity gradually: When the muscles start getting stronger, gradually increase the repetition, holding duration, intensity and frequency of daily sessions.
You will see the result in 6 to 12 weeks, when your bladder or bowel control gets better. For better results practice this exercise daily.
When to start and How often should you do it ?
It’s never too early to start practicing this but you must start practicing kegel exercise while pregnant, during the second trimester, which is around 14 weeks pregnant or especially, kegel exercise during third trimester, when you will need much energy and control for your pelvic floor muscles.
You can do kegel exercise post delivery, whenever you are relaxed and feel like starting it again. You can consult your doctor also to prevent any complications.
There are no rules set on how often you should do it. You can start practicing 10 sets a day for four times a week, then increase the duration and frequency gradually. Maybe by another week, you can do 10 sets twice then thrice a day and daily or 50 squeezes in a row daily.
With little practice you will be able to perform this exercise in many different positions, maybe while lying, sitting or standing or during performing some other activity.
If you have any questions related to Kegel exercise and how to perform it or how often to do it, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare practitioner or therapist. They will surely give you the best advice.