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Kegel Exercises to Improve Pregnancy and Childbirth

 Stay hopeful if you’re coping with infertility now – because you could be pregnant before you know it! These effective Kegel exercises are from a physical therapist, and they’ll improve your pregnancy and childbirth experience.

“Incontinence or involuntary urine leakage is more common than you may think – it affects women in their teens, through menopause, and decades beyond,” says Tasha Mulligan, who create the Hab It Pelvic Floor DVD. “More than 20 million women are leaking urine when they run, jump, laugh and sneeze! For most us, the problem is muscular – which means that like a shoulder or knee, it can be rehabilitated through exercise.”

Read on for Mullgan’s effective Kegel exercises, which will improve your pregnancy and childbirth. Remember, acting as if one day you will be pregnant could improve your changes of beating infertility and getting pregnant! For more detailed info on Kegel exercises, read Beyond Kegels: Fabulous Four Exercises and More to Prevent and Treat Incontinence by Janet Hulme.

Effective Kegel Exercises to Improve Pregnancy and Childbirth

1. Perform your Kegel exercises correctly.  This means you need to perform the 2 actions of the pelvic floor.  Most women are familiar with the Kegel description as “tightening your pelvic floor as if to stop the flow of urine or the passing of gas.”  This is simply the first step.  The second and final step of pelvic floor strengthening is to elevate the pelvic floor, as if there is a string attached from the belly button to the pelvic floor and you are drawing it up into your pelvic outlet. If you are performing this second action correctly, you will feel your belly button draw in as you elevate your pelvic floor muscles.  Make it your goal to perform 8 Kegel contractions with elevation every day, holding them for eight seconds each.  You can follow each lift and hold with a set of quick Kegel contractions to work both endurance and short burst control of your pelvic floor muscles.

2. Tighten up your entire “abdominal basket.”  This means that you also have to perform exercises that strengthen the surrrounding muscles.  These muscles coordinate with the contraction of your pelvic floor muscles as the front, back, and sides of our abdominal basket.  This includes our lower abdominals, deep hip rotators, lower back muscles, and our inner thighs that all work together to stabilize our abdominal core, including the pelvic floor.

3. Hold appropriate posture throughout your day.  Remember the words your mother used to say – “Stand up straight”, or “Don’t slouch” – well physical therapists today are echoing those wise words!  Poor posture can be the root of back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, muscle weakness, and dysfunction including incontinence.  Finding your “neutral spine” and contracting the right muscles to help hold yourself there can lead you on the path to better health.  This includes improved breathing, more efficient muscle control, and better distribution of forces on our bones.

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The Hab It Pelvic Floor DVD – written by Tasha Mulligan, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist – describes each of these steps in detail (click the link for more information). “Our goal is to provide a resource for women to educate them on what is happening with their body and what they can do to regain control,” says Mulligan.

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4 thoughts on “Kegel Exercises to Improve Pregnancy and Childbirth”

  1. These are the same kegel exercises my obstretician recommended, to help me get ready to have my baby. Thank you for the reminder! Good to know.

  2. As a physical therapist, I would like to provide some patient education as to “why” our pelvic floors seem to “give out” at various points in our lives. It has been found that symptoms can actually improve with patient education alone and we have found that women don’t seem to have a good visual of their pelvic floor and its function, but once they can visualize what they are trying to strengthen and why, it gives the exercises more of a purpose. So here’s a bit of patient education-
    Following pregnancy and childbirth – If we visualize our pelvic floor as a very thin, muscular tissue that has the responsibility of controlling the passage of solids, liquids, and air from our body, as well as holding up our bowel, bladder, and uterus, we start to understand how this muscle can have some difficulty controlling everything as the weight and size of our uterus increases throughout pregnancy. Incontinence reaches its peak in the 3rd trimester when the uterus has its most rapid growth. This should explain why we leak during pregnancy, but what about those of us who delivered months or years ago. Why are they still leaking? The answer is that our pelvic floor muscles have been stretched beyond their limit, damaging the muscle tissue. When this occurs, there is no guarantee that our muscles will just bounce back on their own and resume normal muscle firing and coordination. Just like after knee surgery, we have to do exercises to ensure that our quadricep muscle will fire again and resume normal strength, we should also exercise our pelvic floors after the trauma of pregnancy and delivery to expect our pelvic floor to keep us continent and “supported”.