Kegel Exercises

How Kegels can help in pregnancy

Kegels or pelvic floor exercises are done to help strengthen the muscles you will be using when you give birth to your baby. Many pregnant women prepare for a vaginal birth by doing Kegel exercises, which are believed to have a wide range of beneficial effects.

You can begin strengthening your pelvic floor muscles as soon as you learn you're pregnant. In fact, many proponents of Kegel exercises believe that the sooner you start them, the better. Their benefits are by no means limited to pregnancy, either, and both women and men can do Kegels throughout their lives to help ward off certain health problems associated with older age.


Instructions for Kegel Exercises

Doing Kegels is fairly easy. Just imagine that you're trying to withhold flatulence and stop urination in mid-stream at the same time. Flex the muscles you would use to do that, hold for a few seconds, release for a few seconds, then repeat.

Don't try to do too much too quickly. At first, flex your muscles only for a second or two and release them for a second or two, and repeat the action 10 times. Over time, as your muscles strengthen, try to hold the contraction for 10 seconds, and then release for 10 seconds before repeating. Do 10 repetitions at least once per day; the more sets you do, the stronger your muscles will become.

Benefits of Kegel Exercises for Pregnant Women

Kegel exercises strengthen your rectum, uterus, bladder and urethra, and can help ward off urinary stress incontinence, which affects a large percentage of pregnant women, especially those expecting multiple births. Not only will Kegel exercises help you retain bladder control during pregnancy, they can also ward off hemorrhoids and help any ruptures or tears that may occur during childbirth heal more quickly. They have been proven to increase blood circulation in the nether regions of your body, and anecdotal evidence suggests they can also make sex more pleasurable for your partner.

The benefits of performing pelvic floor exercises extend beyond pregnancy, as well. Pregnancy and especially childbirth put a lot of strain on your pelvic floor muscles, sometime resulting in permanent weakening. Keeping those muscles strong now can help to prevent pelvic organ prolapse later in life, a condition in which the uterus and bladder descend into the vagina. Urinary incontinence is a more common problem affecting women, as pelvic floor muscles weaken due to pregnancies and normal aging. Doing Kegels during and after your pregnancy may help you avoid the surgery that is normally used to treat these conditions.