In the middle of the last century, Arnold Kegel, an American sexologist and professor of gynecology, has developed a wide range of specialized exercises, which are now widely used in some areas of medicine. Kegel Exercises are focused on people of both sexes and from very different age groups, but this article is intended for women, who are preparing for upcoming natural childbirth.
Why do Pregnant Women Need Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises for pregnant women can help them learn beforehand how to manage the necessary muscles during childbirth, which should make the process much easier and help to avoid such common complication as perineal ruptures.
The pelvis floor muscles are known to be characterized by loss of elasticity during pregnancy due to the pressure from significantly enlarged uterus: the muscle fibers stretch and lose their inherent flexibility. The simple but effective method of Kegel exercises help to restore the lost tone and elasticity of these muscles.
At first glance, it’s hard to learn how to train the muscles of the pelvic floor, but it’s actually pretty easy to master. The main point is to understand where these muscles are located. The easiest way to do this is during urination try to abruptly stop the process and feel what muscles you used to do this – these are the internal muscles that will be involved in all of the following exercises. Then try a few times to make the detected perineum muscles tense and relax. If you can do it without the inclusion of other muscles (thighs, buttocks, legs) in the process, you are doing everything right and can start the targeted exercises. Remember that you should not feel any pain during these exercises!
Kegel Exercises for Pregnant Women
It is recommended to learn how to do all exercises in various positions, not just sitting or standing, but also on all fours and lying down. This will help to achieve the maximum effect, and to use these learned techniques when needing them during childbirth. It is believed that it is easier to begin preparing using this method from a lying position, starting from 3-5 repetitions and eventually increasing it up to 20-30 repetitions of each exercise per day.
Lie or sit down, bend your knees and place your feet slightly apart. You need to relax, but at the same keep your concentration. Tighten the perineum muscles for 5-10 seconds as you did to stop urination, then relax them. Repeat the exercise after a while.
This Exercise is technically much more difficult than the previous one, but it also has more benefits. You must visualize your vagina as an elevator well, dividing it into “stories”, as strange as it may sound. Begin gradually constricting the muscles starting from the vagina entrance and going up, try to linger for a few seconds on each “floor”. Wait a little longer at the top, then start the same gradual movement to downwards to a complete relaxation of all muscles. After a few days of training this exercise will no longer seem so difficult.
In this exercise, you need to actively involve the muscles of your anus. The exercise should be performed at a rapid pace. First, tighten the vaginal muscles, then the anal ones, then relax them in the reverse order, as if forming a wave.
This exercise can be performed only on an empty stomach and bladder. Take any comfortable position and relax as much as possible. Then, holding your breath, try to gently and carefully strain as you do during a bowel movement, using the muscles of your vagina. You can understand if you are doing the exercise right if a hand pressed to your perineum feels the movement of the vaginal muscles. Next, you need to completely relax all muscles and repeat the exercise after a short break. This exercise teaches to feel the muscles that have to work during the expulsion of the fetus to make the straining more effective. Very often untrained women simply do not understand how and in what direction they should strain, which leads to prolongation of the childbirth process and also to perineal ruptures.
Main Advantages of Kegel Exercises
Doing regular exercises according to Kegel method for at least a month, many women reach the following important results:
- Increased tone of flaccid pelvic muscles;
- Improving general health during pregnancy;
- Ability to control necessary muscles during the childbirth;
- Ability to use the most of the hidden possibilities of the perineal muscles;
- An easier and less painful childbirth process.
- Significantly lower probability of various ruptures and other complications during the childbirth.
Before you start doing Kegel exercises for pregnant women, you absolutely must get permission from your gynecologist. Unfortunately, there are some pathological conditions in which this technique is fully prohibited or just certain of its elements are allowed. For example, in case of risk of a miscarriage or premature birth.
Another important detail is the prohibition for doing these exercises in a supine position after the 16th week of pregnancy. This is done to avoid pressure on the inferior hollow vein.
The conclusion from all of this is that, it is preferable for all pregnant women to use the above mentioned method if there are no complications. Regularly performing these exercises can help not only make delivery easier, but also to accelerate postpartum recovery and restore the full enjoyment of your prior sex life or even improve its quality.