Kegel exercises during pregnancy strengthen the pelvic muscles and, thus you are more prepared for birth and to face the issues which may appear during pregnancy or after birth, such as urinary incontinence. This type of exercises are easy to perform and doesn`t take a lot of time. Find out how to perform these exercises and what benefits they bring.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Kegel Exercises?
- 2 Do Kegel Exercises Really Work?
- 3 How to Perform Kegel Exercises?
- 4 How Long Does It Take for Kegels to Work?
- 5 How Many Kegels Should I Do a Day?
- 6 How to Know if They are Performed Correctly?
What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles around the pelvis – muscles that support the uterus, urethra, bladder and rectum.
What does Kegel mean? This type of exercises is known after Arnold Kegel, a well known gynecologist who recommended them for the first time almost 80 years ago. They were meant to help women with urinary incontinence or diminish the control of the bladder (issues that may appear during or after birth).
Do Kegel Exercises Really Work?
Therefore, strengthening the pelvic muscles help in preventing or treating urinary incontinence, an issue that affect up to 70% of women, during and after pregnancy.
Kegel exercises help in preventing and treating anal incontinence. The benefits of these exercises don`t stop here. These exercises help women push the baby during delivery. They also improve the blood circulation in the vagina and rectum. They may also accelerate the healing process after a rupture of the perineum or episiotomy, keep you away of hemorrhoids and tighten the vaginal muscles.
How to Perform Kegel Exercises?
They are started with an empty bladder (after urination). You need to imagine that you try to stop the abdominal gases from coming out, also known as flatulence, and at the same time, you try to stop the urine flow. You need to “squeeze” and then “release” using only the pelvic muscles that support the uterus, bladder or rectum.
You can try these exercises during sexual contact and then ask your partner if he feels the effect.
You can start practicing these exercises during urination, meaning to stop urinating for a few seconds. In time, you`ll be able to perform this procedure several times during urination.
When performing these exercises, you need to use your abdominal muscles, buttock muscles or to keep your breath. Preferably, you should avoid staying down and using only your pelvis muscles.
It could help to place a hand on your abdomen to make sure that it remains relaxed (it doesn`t strengthen).
At the beginning, it may seem difficult, but with a bit of practice, you`ll be able to perform these exercises easily at your office or home.
If you experience urinary incontinence, try to apply these exercises when you cough or lift something. This way, you`ll be able to stop any unwanted leaks.
Contact your pubococcygeus muscle and maintain. Start by contracting as much as you can for 5 seconds and then try to maintain for 20 seconds.
The muscle may get tired after such an exercise, so you can do these exercises at longer intervals of time throughout the day. Form a habit from exercising your pubococcygeus muscle after urinating.
Imagine your vagina being an elevator. Contract your pubococcygeus muscle and increase the tension gradually as when you go up with an elevator – level 2, level 3, level 4 and level 5.
Now release the tension gradually, going down with the elevator – level 4, level 3, level 2 and ground floor. At the end, contract again on the first floor and maintain this tone all the time.
Which are the Pubococcygeus Muscles?
Lots of women confuse pubococcygeus muscles, contracting the abdomen, thighs or buttocks. To identify these muscles, try to stop your urinary flow. The muscles that you contracted at that moment are the ones that need training.
Another way of identifying them is introducing a clean finger into your vagina, and see if when your pelvic muscles contract you feel a pressure around your finger.
How Long Does It Take for Kegels to Work?
You need to be patient with these exercises. They don`t offer results overnight. You`ll feel the difference in 8 to 12 weeks.
How Many Kegels Should I Do a Day?
Are you wondering how often should you do Kegels? At first, you can do them 2 or 3 times per day, when you remember about them. While your muscles become stronger, you`ll gradually increase the number of contractions as well as their duration. It`s clear that these contractions refer to the pelvic muscles that support the bladder and rectum, and not the contraction during labor. In the end, you`ll reach the performance of doing these exercises in sets of 10 exercises – 3 or 4 sets 3 times per day.
Kegel exercises during pregnancy can be a part of your daily routine. You may perform a series of exercises when you wake up in the morning, another one while watching television in the afternoon and then another series in the evening before going to bed. It doesn`t matter when and where you do them, as long as you perform them regularly.
- Anytime and anywhere! At home, in the car, while watching television or your office – no one will notice.
- A series of Kegel exercises last around 1 minute.
- You can stay lying down, sitting on a chair, standing up or on your knees.
- Ideally, you should do 2 or 3 per day, combining several types of training for your muscles.
How to Know if They are Performed Correctly?
There are lots of women who contract the muscles of their abdomen or thighs, believing they exercise correctly. As mentioned above, a way to know what muscles you need to use is to stop when urinating. The muscles that you are contracting at that moment are in fact the muscles that you need to train. An additional advice to figure out if you are losing your time is to insert a finger in the vagina and monitor the activity. If you feel how it`s “crushed” by the vaginal walls, then you are on the right track.