Pregnancy is a wonderful time for most women, although it does come with a few uncomfortable side effects. Studies show that incontinence is often one of these.
Not all women experience incontinence during or after their pregnancy, but if you do go through this embarrassing condition while pregnant, there’s a high chance you’re stuck with it for life.
So, how do you prevent this common malady from becoming something you have to live with? By taking control of your pelvic floor with exercises to target this area.
Here’s what you need to know about the important role of pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy.
What Is the Pelvic Floor?
Both men and women have this group of muscles that stretches in bands from the pelvic bone to the end of the spine. They’re not used for much apart from supporting the organs above them, like the bladder, uterus, rectum, and abdominal organs.
From their location, it’s easy to see that your pelvic floor has its work cut out for it during pregnancy, not to mention childbirth.
Your baby must make its way past these muscles on its way into the world. So they stretch and can even tear during labor.
After the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth, your pelvic muscles can’t bounce back on their own. They can’t support your bladder as well as they used to either, leading to permanent urinary incontinence.
Fortunately, there are ways to prime your pelvic floor for the rigors of pregnancy and birth.
How Do Pelvic Floor Exercises in Pregnancy Help You?
You don’t need to wait until you’re pregnant to start your pelvic floor workouts. They’re great for keeping your nether regions firm and can enhance your orgasms too.
You can also reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence during gestation by getting this muscle group into good shape before you conceive.
Studies suggest that a strong pelvic floor reduces the duration of labor slightly too.
Pelvic floor exercises can also help prevent a serious condition known as pelvic prolapse. This happens when your pelvic floor is so weak it can’t support the organs above it anymore. The result – your bladder, rectum, or uterus drop into your vagina.
A healthcare professional can help you treat pelvic prolapse, but I think we’ll agree that it’s best to avoid it.
Remember, each pregnancy is unique, and you should always consult your doctor about pregnancy-safe core exercises before you try anything new.
Abdominal Exercises for Pregnancy
There are two main types of exercises used to strengthen the pelvic floor. You can do either one or both of them while preparing for the birth of your baby.
Kegels : Kegels are great exercises for any woman wanting to strengthen her pelvic floor.
Dr. Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist, invented these exercises specifically to prevent urinary incontinence. They’re simple, require no extra equipment, and you can do them anywhere.
The best part is that you already know the basic moves involved in Kegels. If you’ve ever been bursting to use the toilet and had to hold it in, you’ve put your pelvic muscles to work before.
Do you need a reminder about that sensation? Try stopping the flow of your urine in the middle of proceedings.
To perform Kegels most effectively, you should aim for a few short workouts per day.
For best effect, you should perform the exercises while seated and leaning slightly forward. Yet you can do them anywhere, anytime, seated, standing, or lying on your back.
Here’s the drill:
- Squeeze and lift your pelvic muscles without tightening your buttocks
- Hold the squeeze for a count of eight seconds
- Relax for eight seconds
- Repeat eight to twelve times
- Try to complete the whole routine at least three times per session
Don’t hold your breath, keep breathing in and out deeply and evenly during your workout.
According to the Hotspot, Kegel balls work well for this exercise too, as they make it easier to tension the pelvic floor muscles correctly.
Pregnancy Ball Exercises
These pregnancy core exercises aren’t as effective as Kegels, but they can also help your cause. Here’s how to do two of the most effective pregnancy ball exercises.
Place a small stability ball on a chair and sit on top of it. Inhale and allow the pelvic muscles to sink toward the ball. As you inhale, draw the muscles closer together, up, and away from the ball.
If preferred, you can do the same exercise with a large ball and no chair.
You can also lie on your side with your leg bent and a small stability ball under the bent leg. Exhale and press on the ball with your knee, drawing your pelvic muscles together at the same time. Exhale and release.
If you feel a little overwhelmed by all the details of these exercises, or you’re worried that you’ll do something wrong, you can sign up for pregnancy exercise classes instead of going it alone.
Bring Out Your Best Self
Some women find pregnancy a little overwhelming and it’s often an emotional time for most. Resist the urge to sink onto the sofa and eat for two.
The best way to ensure you stay in good condition both during and after pregnancy is by putting yourself first. Pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy are only one of the ways to practice self-care at this time.
Staying fit and healthy at this time will ensure you have easier labor and recover from it quickly.
If you’d like some more great information about ways to make your life easier, sweeter, or more fabulous, explore some more of our articles.