Kegel exercise for pregnant women, what you need to know.
I was not born with childbearing hips. My adult hip measurement rivals that of a teenage boy’s. So when I finally got pregnant, one of my major apprehensions was that since my hips weren’t good, wide birthing hips, I probably didn’t have a pelvis capable enough to endure the physical strain of childbirth.
My OB, of course, assured me I had nothing to worry about, that I was physically able to bear a child without breaking my body in two. And to further ease my hormonal nerves, she suggested that I channel all my anxiety instead into doing a Kegel exercise routine in preparation for childbirth.
What is Kegel exercise?
Kegel exercise for pregnant women strengthens your pelvic floor muscles, which are your vaginal muscles and the muscles that support your bladder, uterus, and bowels.
Though invisible to the naked eye, these muscles are essential in labor and delivery. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control and utilize them, as well as help them heal and ease back into their original size after birth.
Is Kegel exercise good for pregnant woman
The beauty of doing a Kegel exercise is you can do it anytime and anywhere — and no one would even suspect you’re doing it!
Kegel exercises can help to build up the muscles that support the uterus, bladder, and bowels. Building these muscles during pregnancy will teach you to relax and control the muscles before labor and delivery.
Kegel exercise for pregnant women is also strongly suggested during the postpartum period to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, assist in their recovery from childbirth, improve urinary control, and stimulate the repair of perineal tissues.
For many pregnant women, performing Kegel exercises is a safe and effective way to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong. However, if you experience pelvic, abdominal, hip, or back pain, doing Kegels may be adding to your pain, claims physical therapist Heather Jeffcoat.
Examples of pelvic and abdominal pain that should prompt a woman to consider whether Kegels are necessary include bladder pain, vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, vaginismus, dyspareunia, painful intercourse urinary urgency and/or frequency, endometriosis, or constipation, according to the author.
If you experience any of these problems, Jeffcoat urges you to get assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist who can offer advice on treating and dealing with your pain.
When to start kegel exercise in pregnancy
Jamie Lipeles, an OBGYN, says the most important times for kegel exercise for pregnant women are during pregnancy and right after delivery, for both vaginal delivery and cesarean section. Nevertheless, it is advisable to start Kegel exercises when young.
But if you have any medical conditions that may make Kegels dangerous, it’s best to speak with a doctor.
Jeffcoat added that the best way to determine whether Kegels should be performed or not during pregnancy is to have your pelvic floor muscles checked, take an honest look at any symptoms that you are feeling, and discuss that with your doctor or physical therapist.
She maintains that stopping Kegels until your practitioner has given them further thought is the conventional treatment for pain problems.
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How to do kegel exercise for pregnant
The best thing about a Kegel exercise for pregnant women? It can be done anywhere, anytime, without anyone knowing you’re doing them!
Step 1: Identify your pelvic muscles.
The first thing to do when it comes to doing Kegels is to identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping your urination midstream. Alternatively, you can try inserting a clean finger inside your vagina. When you feel the squeeze, then you’ve found the right muscles.
You may also do the following steps recommended by Healthline:
- Go to the bathroom.
- Urinate normally for three seconds, then stop.
- Relax and let the urination run its course.
- Repeat. The right muscles to squeeze or tighten may take a few tries to find, but if you stick with it, you’ll soon be executing numerous sets of Kegels.
Jeffcoat suggests doing Kegels either from the anus toward the vagina or from the back to the front. If carried out correctly, according to Jeffcoat, you will also experience a slight tightness and flattening of your lower abs.
Step 2: Work it, girl!
The next step is to perfect your Kegel exercise. Empty your bladder and lie on your back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for about five seconds, and then relax for another five.
Gradually increase these times until you can keep your muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time. Aim for at least three sets of 10 reps a day.
Step 3: Eyes on the prize.
For best results, concentrate on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. Refrain from holding your breath and remember to breathe freely when doing your Kegels.
Step 4: Cross-train Kegels with pelvic squats.
You can also up your Kegel exercise routine by adding some basic squats to further strengthen your pelvic floor. Don’t aim to do 300 in a day, however. Doing a few squats correctly and regularly should help do the trick.
Step 5: Make Kegel exercise a lifetime routine.
Just because you’ve popped the baby out doesn’t mean you should stop doing Kegels. It’s ideal to continue the exercise to maintain pelvic strength, ward off incontinence (the inability to control your pee) as you age, and prevent pelvic organ prolapse. Your pelvic muscles stay with you even long after giving birth, so it’s only right to make Kegels part of your routine.
3rd trimester kegel exercise for pregnant woman
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate activity each day on most days of the week unless you have a medical condition or pregnancy difficulty.
During your second or third trimester, try completing these pelvic exercises while sitting and standing.
- Your weight should be properly distributed while you sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- If you’re doing this while standing, your feet should be roughly hip-width apart. Put the same amount of force on both feet.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and rotate your pelvis upward as you exhale.
- Release to your starting position after three to five seconds of holding.
- Repeat 10 times.
Kegel exercise for pregnant women: When to stop
If you start to feel any of the following while doing kegel exercise for women, stop working out and speak with your doctor:
- Pain in the chest
- Ongoing contractions, pain in the pelvis, or both
- Decrease or absence of fetal movement
- Lightheaded, nauseous, faint, or dizzy
- Numb or cold
- Trickle of fluid that seeps continuously or a sudden flood of fluid from the vagina
- Quick or erratic heartbeat
- Calf pain or abrupt swelling in your hands, face, or ankles
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble walking
- Weakened muscles
Safety tips on kegel exercise for pregnant women
- After the first trimester, avoid lying flat on your back when exercising. In this posture, the inferior vena cava, an important vein that carries blood back to the heart, is pressed against by the uterus. You can feel dizzy, out of breath, or ill if this blood flow is restricted.
- Exercise cautiously and stay off uneven terrain. Pregnancy weight growth will alter your center of gravity, making you feel unbalanced.
- Always wear sturdy footwear.
- To prevent getting too hot when exercising, drink water before, during, and after.
- Never push yourself too hard during a workout. If talking while exercising is difficult, slow down or take brief breaks.
Additional information from Margaux Dolores
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