Pelvic floors during pregnancy and after birth
Kegels, pelvic floors - who??? What could possibly make pelvic floors during pregnancy and after birth so important, a friend of mine enquired over coffee?
My friend, who gave birth 8 weeks ago, mentioned that she had been recommended to do pelvic floors during pregnancy and after birth. Fantastic, I am so glad, I responded. How are you getting on? My enthusiasm was met by a coy, shy smile and a confession: "Not so well, I have no idea what or where they are!"
What are Pelvic Floors?
If this is you, take heart that you are not alone. Unfortunately, this response is all to common and many mothers do not exercise their pelvic floors during pregnancy and after birth. To avoid all confusion, your pelvic floor is the hammock like muscles that hold and release your bladder and bowel. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, next time you spend a penny try and hold your tinkle mid-flow. The muscle you feel tighten is your pelvic floor.
So, what are the benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Now that you have identified the muscles we are talking about, its worth mentioning the other essential benefits that these muscles provide and why we should train them. They:
- Support the pelvic organs (bowel, uterus,bladder)
- Assist delivery by aiding the rotation of babies head
- Stop your tinkle escaping when you laugh
- Improve sexual enjoyment (increased sensation and stronger orgasm)
- Assist posture by keeping your spine in alignment
OK, so they are important, but how do I work my pelvic floor?
Sitting tall in a chair or on the loo, tense the muscles between your front and back passages by pulling slowly upwards and tightening as much as you can. Give 5 pulses (mini-tenses) at the top, holding for as long as you can and then gradually release the muscles back down. Keep breathing throughout. Try to do 2 - 3 sets of 15 reps daily. If you are pregnant, only hold the exercise for 4-5 seconds. If you are not used to exercising your pelvic floor, it will take time to build up strength.
How do I remember to do my pelvic floors?
Working your pelvic floor is quick and easy and takes less than 3 minutes a day. In my experience, the best time to do pelvic floors during pregnancy or after birth is either when you nip to spend a penny first thing in the morning or just before you go to bed. The benefit of doing it while you nip to the loo is that your tinkle gives you a aural and/or visual reference to monitor you progress and serves to motivate you in your efforts. By building it into your morning or nightly routine, it will gradual become a habit. This in turn will strengthen your pelvic floor, increase sexual enjoyment, and ultimately spare the risk of blushes when you have a little leak when laughing too much.