Kegel Exercises: Benefits and How to Do Them
Kegel exercises, also called pelvic floor exercises, help strengthen the muscles that support the uterus, bladder, and bowels. Kegel exercises also help strengthen vaginal muscles.
What are the benefits of Kegel Exercises?
Pregnant women who perform Kegel exercises often find they have an easier birth. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control your muscles during labor and delivery. Toning all of these muscles will also minimize two common problems during pregnancy: bladder control and hemorrhoids.
Kegel exercises are also recommended after pregnancy to promote perineal healing, regain bladder control, and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. The best thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere and no one knows you’re doing them.
How to do Kegel Exercises
- There a few ways to locate your kegel muscles. You can insert a finger into the vagina and try to squeeze the muscles surrounding it. Or you practice stopping the flow of urine when urinating. (Although, you don’t want to do this too often during urination because it can actually weaken the muscles over time and/or increase your chance of a urinary infection.)
- Once you have located your pelvic floor muscles, contract these muscles for 5-10 seconds, then relax, repeating 10-20 times. (Make sure to empty your bladder before doing your Kegals!)
- Breathe normally during the exercises, and do this at least three times a day.
- Try not to move your leg, buttock, or abdominal muscles during the exercises.
When to do Kegel Exercises:
- When you’re stopped at a red light
- In the waiting room at the midwife or doctor’s office
- Drive-through’s such as the bank, dry cleaners, and pharmacy
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com
Cleveland Clinic Health System, http://www.cchs.net/
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny P.T., et al, CH. 6.