Kegels During Pregnancy to Prepare for Delivery
Prepping for birth can mean a lot of things: designing a nursery, pre-washing baby clothes, choosing a stroller…but what about your vaginal health? Yup, vaginal health is a smart part of preparing for the big day (and the many months after!).
Internally, your body is doing a lot of work already…like producing relaxin. That’s a hormone that slightly loosens joints, allowing your pelvis to widen for delivery. You’re also cranking out extra blood to support your growing baby and so much more. But, let’s not forget your pelvic floor. This is an important part of delivery—both pre and post—and that’s where Kegels come in!
What are Kegels?
Mayo Clinic explains that Kegel exercises “strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestines and rectum.” Just like any other muscle in your body, your inside musculature needs some exercise, too. Ever heard that many new moms start to leak a little pee post-delivery or fall victim to “peezing” (when you sneeze and pee at the same time)? Kegels can help with that!
When to Do Kegel Exercises
Practicing every so often—day or evening—will make your pelvic floor toned and healthy. During pregnancy (and after) make a plan to practice your Kegels about 2-3 times a day, for a few minutes.
How to Do Kegels
How to get started:
Find Your Pelvic Muscles
It can be hard to identify your pelvic floor muscles. Unlike biceps, where you can just pump a little iron and see your muscles getting stronger. The easiest way to find these important muscles is to practice stopping your pee mid-stream. Turning your pee on and off is the handiwork of those little pelvic powerhouses!
Most women find it easiest to begin these exercises in a sitting position. (Be sure to start with an empty bladder.) Visualize the muscles under your bladder, squeeze and hold them for 5 seconds…then release. It can be a little tricky but try not to hold your breath or tighten your thighs or butt, while you are tensing your deep inner muscles during this. Repeat the hold and release process 5-10 times. It may take a few times to get the hang of it. But most women notice that—with practice—they’re able to increase the length of holding time and strength.
Make it a Routine
Once you’re feeling like a Kegel master, start practicing them every day. Experts recommend doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 2-3 times a day.
Tips for Kegels
- Don’t do Kegels while peeing. It might prevent your bladder from fully emptying.
- A little soreness after these exercises is normal, but pain is not! Talk with your doctor if you experience extra discomfort.
- Set a reminder! You can practice Kegels anywhere (and no one will know!). You can even get in all your sets while working at your desk.
- Having trouble locating your pelvic floor muscles? Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor, s/he will have resources to help!