Kegel Exercises: What They Are and How to Do Them During Pregnancy
Have you done your kegels today? Learn more about this important pre-labor exercise and how it can help ease your delivery.
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.
But fear not: Kegel exercises to the rescue!
What is a Kegel?
Your pelvic-floor muscles act as a sling for the bladder, uterus and rectum. 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. These exercises can also help make intercourse more enjoyable and help your pelvic floor muscles get back in shape after delivery.
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.
How to do a Kegel:
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. You can also stop the flow of urine the next time you're emptying your bladder to get a sense of what muscles to tighten.
Hold the muscles tight and then release. Squeeze and hold those same vaginal muscles for 10 seconds and then slowly release. Squeeze again and release quickly. Do 20 10-second holds 5 times a day.