Exercises are not just about hitting the gym and lifting heavy weights. There are certain exercise movements that have a positive impact on the female body and overall health. Read on to discover one such exercise- Kegels for women like never before!
What is the Kegel Exercise?
Kegel exercises are easy to perform muscle movements. Kegel exercises are very effective in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles are the set of muscles that support the organs and tissues present in the pelvis region of our body.
These groups of muscles support the uterus, bladder, and rectum, along with other things. Kegel exercises for pregnant women are efficient in treating common pelvic floor complaints such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse according to research.
Why Doing Kegel Exercise for Pregnant Women Is Important
When a woman is expecting, her pelvic floor muscles undergo immense strain and pressure. Not to mention the severe changes in a woman’s body alignment, cervix, and abdominal region during this period. Vaginal childbirth is known to weaken pelvic floor muscles considerably. Moreover, an inability to control urination and constipation, rampant during pregnancy, may also cause pelvic floor muscle deterioration.
Performing Kegel exercises correctly can cause pelvic floor muscle discomfort and painful symptoms to reverse.
Kegel Exercises For Pregnant Women
Before beginning, always remember these points on how to do Kegel exercises:
- Make sure you start on an empty bladder.
- Ensure you are exercising the correct muscles.
- Squeeze for a count of 5 seconds and relax for a count of 5 seconds.
- Try for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 repetitions each time.
- Ideally, do the exercises at least thrice a day.
Here are some forms of Kegel exercise
- "Sitting on a marble" exercise: Do not use an actual marble. Just imagine it. Pretend to pick up the marble with the vagina. Try sucking it into the vagina, then relax.
- Squeezing the finger: Insert a clean finger in the vagina. Squeeze the muscles to clench the finger.
- Stop the urine: While peeing, mid-stream, try to hold the urine. Try to stop it with your muscles. Do not repeat this exercise often.
- Vaginal cones: Available in different weights, use these to insert inside the vagina and squeeze. Try to hold and release.
- Rapid movements: Quickly execute a series of tight holds or a series of long and short holds.
- Specific holds: Try to squeeze the muscles during certain moments like coughing, laughing, or shouting.
- Try coughing and performing Kegel exercises: Try to cough out different letters or words while squeezing.
Also read: 10 dry fruits to eat during pregnancy
Here are few positions on how to do Kegel exercises:
- Kneeling, on the floor, on all fours.
- Lying down on your back.
- Sitting in a comfortable chair.
- Standing in an empty area.
Repeat the exercises in all four positions every day.
Tips for Doing Kegel Exercise for Pregnant Women
While Kegel exercises for pregnant women are beneficial, they can be troublesome if not done right. Here are some tips to remember when performing Kegel exercises in pregnant women:
- While Kegel exercises help with controlling your urine, do not practice them while passing urine.
- When performing Kegel exercises, do not hold your breath or strain.
- Always keep the other muscles relaxed – especially the abdomen and thigh muscles.
- Some amount of soreness in the pelvic area is possible. But if it is more than usual, that could be because it is overdone. Consult your doctor.
- Sometimes it is difficult to locate the right set of muscles. Check with your healthcare provider or instructor to help you understand the correct set of muscles.
Kegels Benefits And Side Effects During Pregnancy
There are primarily three major benefits of doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy:
Kegels ensure better bladder control
With all that weight and extra mass to balance, there is additional pressure on your urinary bladder. It is the pelvic floor muscles that can continue to maintain control. According to research, Kegel exercises strengthen these muscles, thus reducing your chances of developing urinary incontinence (a condition where you lose control over your bladder, causing a small amount of urine to leak, especially when you sneeze, cough, or laugh hard).
Kegels strengthen the pelvic organs
Pelvic organs consist of the uterus, ovaries, urethra, and certain parts of our intestines. Due to the pressure during vaginal childbirth, some of these tend to sag. The uterus can protrude through the vagina. Kegel exercises during pregnancy can decrease the chances of pelvic organ prolapse after delivery.
Kegels decrease chances of faecal incontinence
It refers to control over bowel movements. Continuing with these exercises during pregnancy helps with perianal tissues and rectum muscles.
When Should You Do Kegel Exercises?
Performing Kegel exercises has no age. One is recommended to begin practicing them at an early age. However, during pregnancy and afterwards is one of the most critical periods in terms of Kegels. This applies to mothers who undergo a C-section or a vaginal childbirth. The question of when to perform Kegel exercises is best determined by a medical professional or your gynaecologist. This is because every pregnancy journey and pelvic floor muscle analysis varies.
Mistakes To Avoid While Performing Kegel Exercises For Pregnant Women
Kegel exercises are not meant to show off like bicep muscles. Do not constantly keep straining the muscles to make them stronger. Relaxation of the muscles is equally important with the squeezing movement. Do not skimp the relaxation part.
There is a threshold limit for all muscles. Simply clamping continuously does not make them stronger. Alternating contractions and relaxations increase their strength. Only continuing to contract will tire out the muscle, and it will lose the ability to contract or tighten further when needed.
Kegel Exercise After Delivery
It is a myth that Kegel exercises are for pregnant women only. It is equally important, if not more, to continue Kegel exercises after delivery. Some benefits of continuing Kegel exercises after delivery are:
- Better healing: The pelvic muscles are strained and often damaged during delivery. These muscles heal better with Kegel exercise after delivery.
- Post-delivery bladder control: After a caesarean section or even a normal delivery, many women experience issues with bladder control. Kegel exercises after delivery will help with better control and quicker recovery.
- Pelvic organ prolapse: Kegel exercises help with pelvic organ prolapse. This happens especially in the case of vaginal delivery that has lasted for long hours.
- Experience better intercourse sensation with a partner: There is always some amount of laxity in the vaginal canal post-delivery. Kegel exercises after delivery can improve the vaginal tone. This directly translates to better sensations for your partner during intercourse.
Concluding Our Final Verdict On Kegel Exercises For Pregnant Women
Kegel exercises must definitely be performed by pregnant women. These exercises have a host of benefits such as reduced urinary incontinence, improved bladder control post childbirth, strengthened pelvic organs, and decreased fecal incontinence. However, make sure to perform Kegel exercises, correctly, consistently, and under gynaecologist supervision for best results.
Is Kegel Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes, Kegel exercises are safe and effective during pregnancy. They ensure strong pelvic floor muscles, better bladder control, and a tighter vagina for more pleasurable sex. However, if a pregnant woman is experiencing abdominal, pelvic or back pain, Kegel exercises may enhance her pain instead of helping alleviate it. Hence, if you are suffering from any of these issues during pregnancy, please refrain from performing Kegels.
Do Kegels Make Giving Birth Easier?
There are plenty of studies that support the fact that performing Kegels, especially during the last few months of pregnancy make giving birth considerably easy. Pelvic exercises like Kegels may also shorten the duration of labour, facilitating a comparatively easy delivery. Moreover, evidence also suggests a shorter second stage of labour wherein women use Kegel exercises to help themselves through uterine contractions.
When Should You Start Kegel Exercises During Pregnancy?
The earlier you begin performing Kegel exercises during pregnancy, the better. Moreover, you can continue to perform them soon after you have delivered the baby. In the initial days after your pregnancy, your pelvic area may feel numb, but in a few months, your sensations will return.
Kegels can be turned into a lifelong habit for better pelvic floor muscle control. However, if you experience any pain or discomfort, visit a doctor near you immediately.
Susan M. Yount, Rebecca A. Fay (2021) Prenatal and Postpartum Experience, Knowledge and Engagement with Kegels: A Longitudinal, Prospective, Multisite Study (Journal Of Women's Health) https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jwh.2019.8185
Deirdre Daly, Cinny Cusack (2019) Learning about pelvic floor muscle exercises before and during pregnancy: a cross-sectional study (National Library Of Medicine) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30612181/