Kegel (Pelvic floor) exercise after birth
Exercising during the onset of pregnancy is recommended in order to get your body ready for the baby’s arrival. There are plenty of exercises that can be done and one of the most beneficial is exercising with Kegels. Kegel exercising helps in physically and mentally stimulating your muscles and mind and help you feel relaxed during a generally tense phase.
Video: Pelvic Floor Kegel Exercise After Delivery
Pregnancy and Birth
The arrival of a baby is the most wonderful experience in a woman’s life; however, giving birth can also take a toll on her body. While you want to make sure that things run smoothly for your newborn, you will also need to ensure their well-being and health. You will have to sleep well, eat healthily and manage your weight. Besides dealing with these, you will also need to work on getting back your pelvic muscles to pre-baby strength.
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscle that supports the bladder, bowel and the uterus of a woman weakens, causing leakage or bowel incontinence after childbirth. The best way to strengthen pelvic muscles is with the Kegel exercise, named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, the gynaecologist who developed these exercises as a non-surgical option for pelvic relaxation.
Benefits of Kegel Exercise After Delivery
Kegel exercises are beneficial when you’re pregnant and continue to offer benefits after the birth of the child. It is an exercise for your insides.
1. Healthy Healing
Kegel exercises after childbirth are needed for healing the weakened, strained or damaged pelvic muscles from pushing the baby through the birth canal. Sometimes your vagina’s muscles, cervix and uterus might get torn in the process of delivery or your doctor may have performed episiotomy – i.e. cut the perineum to ease the birth process. These muscles need to be healed and strengthened to avoid health issues in the long term. Kegels will increase the blood circulation to these areas and fasten the healing process.
2. Bladder Control Post-delivery
Whether you have the baby through a caesarean section or opt for normal delivery, you will have problems with bladder control. Urinary leakage issues are common after childbirth. An expanding uterus can place a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and weaken them, causing a leaky bladder. This can be embarrassing in public especially when you sneeze, cough or laugh. This is called ‘Stress Incontinence’. Kegel exercise after labour helps strengthen pelvic floor muscles and help you with bladder control.
3. Rekindling Romance / Intimacy
A major concern for new moms is comfort with sex again after childbirth. Your pelvic muscles are partially responsible for your vagina’s tightness. Stronger pelvic floor muscles and toned vagina will make sex more pleasurable for both partners. Kegel exercise after pregnancy can result in toned muscles for increased sensations and frequent orgasms, thus rekindling the intimacy.
4. Loose Ligaments
The loosening of ligaments and the additional pregnancy weight is a concern for all new moms. Pregnancy loosens and stretches your ligaments to enable your body to accommodate the baby as it grows inside you. On average, pregnancy can add between 12-18 kilograms (15-35 pounds) of weight that is extra. This will add pressure to the pelvic floor muscles, which have to stretch and strain in order to hold the increase in weight. Building stronger pelvic muscles to help these ligaments, will protect you from vaginal incontinence and prolapse as you grow older.
5. Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse affects women after multiple deliveries. With each pregnancy, you are placing increased pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Eventually, these muscles will weaken and will not be able to efficiently support organs like the bladder, uterus and rectum. It can cause these organs to drop and extend into your vaginal area. This can cause problems ranging from pelvic or back pain to bladder incontinence.
How to Do Pelvic Floor Exercises After Giving Birth
Pelvic floor muscle exercises after pregnancy are the simplest non-surgical options to resolve common post-delivery issues, but unfortunately, most women find it hard to isolate the right muscles for kegel contractions. It is extremely important to follow the right technique and target the right muscles.
Ask your doctor to ensure that the exercises are being done properly. Exercising with Kegels can be extremely beneficial, especially during the postpartum recovery phase in order to help you get back to your pre-baby condition.
Techniques for Kegel
Make sure you empty your bladder completely before doing Kegel exercises. Incomplete emptying of the bladder can increase the risk of urinary tract infection. Focus is very important while performing Kegels. Focus on tightening the pelvic floor muscles only. Do not squeeze or move your legs, abdominal muscles or buttock during Kegels.
- Sit and lean slightly forward with a straight back.
- Begin with identifying the right pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze the muscles as if you are trying to stop the urine and passing of gas simultaneously; in case you are unable to isolate the muscles initially, insert a clean finger into your vagina, if you feel pressure on the finger, you have got the right muscles.
- Hold the contraction for 8-12 counts and then relax for 8-12 counts. Repeat two to three sets several times a day.
- Keep breathing normally while exercising.
- Try not to do Kegels while sneezing or coughing. It will keep you from leaking and avoid embarrassing situations.
- Do not attempt Kegels while emptying the bladder as it can weaken the muscles.
- Do not use Kegel exercise to start and stop your urinal stream.
When Can You Start Postpartum Kegel Exercises?
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is absolutely necessary for recovery after pregnancy. It should form part of your regular exercise routine.
You can check with your doctor or start with a kegel routine after 6 weeks of giving birth.
When to Stop Pelvic Floor Exercises
It is important to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles all through your life. Never stop Kegels. Make them a part of your routine exercise even after pregnancy.
Conclusion: Doing Kegels on a regular basis helps tone up and strengthen the muscles and offer protection against problems like urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse as you age. Take some time out to perform the exercise on a daily basis to reap the maximum benefits from them.
Also Read: Postpartum Exercises