As your uterus grows larger and the weight of the baby presses down on your pelvic floor muscles, they may weaken. That's not a good development because these muscles support the organs in the pelvis -- the bladder, urethra, uterus, and rectum -- and control urination. Kegel exercises to the rescue! Kegel exercises, which are named after the doctor who pioneered their use, strengthen pelvic floor muscles; this makes delivery slightly easier and helps prevent urinary incontinence. The exercises can also help make intercourse more enjoyable.
You can do Kegels anytime, anywhere. A good way to remember your Kegels is to do them at the same time each day or while you're doing a certain activity -- riding the bus to and from work, for example. Here's how:
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles. Do what you would do if you were in the middle of urinating and wanted to stop because you thought you heard the phone ringing. Or, even better, pretend you are in an elevator and you have to pass gas; hold the gas in and you will tighten your pelvic floor muscles from front to back.
- Hold the muscles tight and then release.
- There are several ways to do Kegels: You can hold the muscles tight for a count of four and then release for a count of four and repeat that for several minutes. Or you can hold the muscles tight for up to 10 seconds, release, and repeat 10 times several times a day.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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