Kegel Exercise and Childbirth: 5 Steps to Prepare the Pelvic Muscles
Getting ready for the big labor day? Practicing a kegel exercise routine will no doubt get your pelvic muscles in shape before, during and after delivery.
I was not born with childbearing hips. In fact, my adult hip measurement rivals that of a teenage boy’s. So when I finally got pregnant, one of my major apprehensions was that since my hips weren’t good, wide birthing hips, I probably didn’t have a pelvis capable enough to endure the physical strain of childbirth.
My OB-Gyne, of course, assured me I had nothing to worry about, that I was physically able to bear a child without breaking my body in two. And to further ease my hormonal nerves, she suggested that I channel all my anxiety instead into doing a Kegel exercise routine in preparation for childbirth.
What is Kegel exercise?
Kegel exercise strengthens your pelvic floor muscles, which are your vaginal muscles and the muscles that support your bladder, uterus and bowels. These muscles, though invisible to the naked eye, are essential in labor and delivery. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control and utilize them, as well as help them heal and ease back into their original size after birth.
The best thing about a Kegel exercise? It can be done anywhere, anytime, without anyone knowing you’re actually doing them!
Step 1: Identify your pelvic muscles
The first thing to do when it comes to doing Kegels is to identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping your urination midstream. Alternatively, you can try inserting a clean finger inside your vagina. When you feel the squeeze, then you’ve found the right muscles.
Step 2: Work it, girl!
Next step is to perfect your Kegel exercise. Empty your bladder and lie on your back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for about five seconds, and then relax for another five. Gradually increase these times until you can keep your muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time. Aim for at least three sets of 10 reps a day.
Step 3: Eyes on the prize
For best results, concentrate on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs and buttocks. Refrain from holding your breath and remember to breathe freely when doing your Kegels.
Step 4: Cross-train Kegels with pelvic squats
You can also up your Kegel exercise routine by adding some basic squats to further strengthen your pelvic floor. Don’t aim to do 300 in a day, however. Doing a few squats correctly and regularly should help do the trick.
Step 5: Make Kegel exercise a lifetime routine
Just because you’ve popped the baby out doesn’t mean you should stop doing Kegels. It’s ideal to continue the exercise to maintain pelvic strength, ward off incontinence (the inability to control your pee) as you age and prevent pelvic organ prolapse. Your pelvic muscles stay with you even long after you give birth, so it’s only right to make Kegels part of your regular routine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MEL LOZANO-ALCARAZ
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