How to Incorporate Pelvic Floor Exercises Into Your Pregnancy Exercise Routine
Pelvic floor exercises, often known as Kegels, are an essential part of prenatal fitness. Strengthening these muscles can help manage incontinence issues both during and after pregnancy and may aid in childbirth. Here’s how to effectively incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your pregnancy workout routine.
Understanding the Pelvic Floor Muscles
- Location and Function: The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder, and rectum. During pregnancy, they carry more weight and can be weakened, leading to issues like urinary incontinence.
Incorporating Pelvic Floor Exercises
1. Identify the Right Muscles
- Finding the Muscles: The easiest way to identify your pelvic floor muscles is to try stopping your urine flow mid-stream. The muscles you use are the ones you need to exercise (Note: Only do this for identification, not as a regular exercise).
2. Start with Basic Kegels
- How to Do: Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for three to five seconds, then relax for three to five seconds. Ensure you're breathing normally and not holding your breath.
- Frequency: Aim to do three sets of 10-15 repetitions each day.
3. Integrate into Daily Activities
- Routine Integration: You can perform Kegels while sitting, standing, or lying down, making them easy to incorporate into various activities, like while watching TV, working at your desk, or even during other exercises.
4. Add to Your Exercise Routine
- During Workouts: Incorporate Kegels during rest periods in your exercise routine or integrate them into yoga or Pilates sessions.
- Posture and Alignment: While doing Kegels, focus on maintaining good posture. Aligning your body correctly can enhance the effectiveness of the exercise.
5. Progress to Advanced Techniques
- Holding Longer: As you get stronger, increase the time you hold each contraction. Work up to holding for 10 seconds.
- Adding More Repetitions: Gradually increase the number of repetitions and sets.
6. Use Visual and Physical Cues
- Mental Imagery: Visualize lifting a marble with your vagina or imagine a string pulling your pelvic floor upwards. This can help in performing the exercises correctly.
- Physical Feedback: Consider using biofeedback tools or pelvic floor trainers if you’re unsure whether you’re doing the exercises correctly.
7. Stay Consistent
- Regular Practice: Consistency is key. Make pelvic floor exercises a part of your daily routine.
8. Combine with Breathing Exercises
- Breath Work: Coordinate your breathing with Kegels – inhale and relax your pelvic floor, exhale and contract.
9. Include Postnatal
- After Delivery: Continue these exercises after giving birth to aid in recovery and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
10. Consult with Healthcare Professionals
- Professional Guidance: If you’re unsure about how to do these exercises or if you’re doing them correctly, consult with a healthcare provider or a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Pelvic floor exercises are a valuable addition to your pregnancy exercise routine. Not only do they help in reducing the risk of urinary incontinence, but they also prepare your muscles for childbirth and aid in postpartum recovery. Remember, as with any exercise during pregnancy, it’s important to do them correctly and consistently for the best results.