Let’s Get Real about your Pelvic Floor

Let’s Get Real about your Pelvic FloorIt’s probably not every day that you think about and talk about your pelvic floor but when you’re pregnant or if you’ve just had a baby, you should. Pelvic floor exercise, the most common of which is kegels, can help you during labor, delivery and beyond. We’re getting real about your pelvic floor and explaining all you need to know about kegels.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is the set of muscles, nerves, tissues and ligaments that support your bladder, rectum, vagina, and uterus. As you can imagine, these are all very important during pregnancy, particularly as your baby grows and puts more pressure on these areas.

How does a strong pelvic floor help during pregnancy, labor and delivery?

Your growing baby is doing her job by gaining in weight and length day-by-day inside the womb. However, this contributes to a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor. By exercising your pelvic floor, your muscles will be more suited to hold this extra weight comfortably. When it comes time for your baby’s big debut, your pelvic floor will stretch a great deal to allow for your baby’s safe passage. Women who have a strong pelvic floor generally have easier deliveries and perhaps even shorter periods of active labor.

How does a strong pelvic floor help postpartum?

After being stretched to the max during delivery, your pelvic floor will need some time to regain its shape. A strong pelvic floor will have an easier time “bouncing back” and can help reduce chances of side-effects like urine leaks or incontinence after childbirth. If these muscles remain relaxed, even sneezing, being startled or laughing can cause some leakage.

What are kegels?

Kegels are the exercise in which you contract and release your pelvic floor to build the muscles. The best way to learn how to do a kegel is to stop the flow of your urine while you’re going to the bathroom. The motion you used to freeze your urine stream is a kegel. Once you know how to do it, it’s pretty simple and can be done anywhere. No one will even know you’re doing it so feel fee to do it at your desk, in your car, in bed or while sitting at the dinner table. (But don’t continue to do it while urinating because it can lead to bladder problems.)

How often should you do kegels?

It’s best to work your way up to doing 3 sets of 20 kegels a day. Contract your pelvic floor for 5 seconds at a time and then release. You can make it fun by downloading an app with kegels music routines or involving your partner.

Exercising your pelvic floor may not be your most favorite activity during pregnancy and postpartum but it’s one that can surely pay off if you do it regularly.

Sources: What to Expect, Prevention Magazine and The Bump