You’re about to embark on one of the most amazing journeys of your life. You’re running around buying baby essentials and getting the nursery ready for your new arrival. You’ve been so busy prepping for the baby that you may not have been preparing your body for the big day. It’s no secret that giving birth can be difficult for the mom-to-be. It takes a toll on your body, challenging your strength, endurance, and pain tolerance. Luckily, pelvic floor exercise can help to ease your labor process.
First Things First
Before you get started, you’ll need to find your pelvic floor muscles. Believe it or not, the easiest way to find your muscles is when you’re urinating. Next time you’re going to the bathroom, try to interrupt the flow of urine. If you successfully stopped urinating, then you found your pelvic floor muscles and already completed your first exercise!
Once you’re comfortable activating these muscles, you can do a couple different exercises. Each pelvic floor exercise, also known as a Kegel, will get you ready for delivery (and beyond).
- Long Contractions – Contract your muscles slowly for 5 counts, then release slowly for another 5 counts. Do 3 or 4 repetitions a few times a day. Be sure to give yourself several seconds to rest between each. As your pelvic floor begins to strengthen, you can add time to each muscle contraction on a weekly basis. Eventually, you should be able lengthen the contractions up to 20 seconds.
- Quick Pulses – Instead of 5 or 10 counts per repetition, you will speed it up to 2 or 3 counts. Repeat each contraction anywhere from 10 to 20 times. You can work on these twice a day. Again, as your muscles get stronger, you should be able to do up to 60 of these exercises per day.
Kegels offer many benefits to pregnant women. Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause urine leakage, also known as Urinary Incontinence (UI). By strengthening these muscles, you could lessen or even prevent UI altogether. The exercises can result in shorter active labor, reduced tearing, and a smoother delivery. Pelvic floor exercise can also improve circulation in your genitals. The increased blood flow aids in the recovery from hemorrhoids and episiotomies after childbirth. It also increases your sex drive by toning your vaginal muscles.
The Best Part
Perhaps the nicest thing about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere and anytime. You can do them while you’re out to dinner, or while you’re checking your email. You can get them in while you’re washing the dishes, or waiting in the checkout line. You also don’t have to give them up after childbirth. Strengthening your pelvic muscles, much like a standard fitness routine, should be something you do on a daily basis to keep your body in optimal shape.