3 Benefits of Doing Kegels During and After Pregnancy
You might have heard the term “Kegels” and wondered what they are. Kegels are exercises that strengthen your pelvic muscles, the muscles that support your bladder, and uterus. These muscles also support the opening that leads from your urinary tract to the outside world, called the urethra.
Kegel exercises were developed by a gynecologist to help women prevent bladder control problems after giving birth. Doing these exercises is beneficial when you’re pregnant and can continue to offer benefits after you’ve delivered your new baby. Here are three important ways Kegel exercises can pay off.
A Smoother Delivery and Recovery
Did you know that performing Kegel exercises while you’re pregnant can help your delivery go more smoothly? Kegels strengthen the pelvic muscles you use to push the baby through the birth canal. When these muscles are “in shape,” you’ll have better control over them. Exercising gives these muscles more strength and the ability to generate more force. As a result, it will be a little easier to push your new baby out into the outside world. Anything that can make delivery a little easier is a good thing, right?
Fewer Bladder Control Issues after Pregnancy
It’s not something people like to talk about, but up to 7 out of 10 women experience problems with urinary leakage after delivering a baby. Why is leakage so common? An expanding uterus places a lot of pressure on the muscles in your pelvic floor. This can cause them to weaken. When these muscles become weaker, you might experience seepage of urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh, what we call stress incontinence. That can be inconvenient when you’re out in public! Kegel exercises strengthen those all-important pelvic muscles that hold up your bladder, the ones that keep you from leaking urine at the most inconvenient times.
Lower Risk of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Even more concerning than bladder leakage is pelvic organ prolapse. This is a problem that most frequently affects women who have given birth many times. Each time you carry a pregnancy, it places pressure on the muscles in your pelvic floor. Over time, these muscles can weaken so much that they can’t support organs like your bladder, uterus and rectum and these organs drop. At some point, they can fall so far that they extend into your vaginal area. As you might expect, this can cause a variety of problems ranging from pelvic or back pain to bladder incontinence. If the thought of that worries you, do a little “kegeling.” Think of it as exercise for your insides.
How Long Should You Continue to Do Kegels?
So now that you know how important it is to strengthen those muscles – when should you stop? You shouldn’t – even after you’ve delivered. Doing Kegels should be a life-long habit. Performing these exercises on a regular basis helps tone up and strengthen the muscles that support your uterus, rectum, and bladder. This gives you greater protection against problems like urinary incontinence. So, learn how to do these exercises correctly and do them regularly. You’ll be glad you did.
American Pregnancy Association. “Kegel Exercises”
Mayo Clinic. “Kegel Exercises: A How To Guide for Women”