What you need for labor is a flexible, relaxed, supported pelvic floor and that begins with lengthening those muscles. It’s common to hear about kegels and pelvic floor “strengthening”, but if your buttock muscles (glutes) aren’t getting any exercise then that adds to pelvic floor problems. Ideally combine the pelvic floor exercise with squatting every day, the benefits will pay off long after the birth.
Importance of Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy
1. Prevention of Incontinence
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles helps prevent and alleviate urinary incontinence, a common issue during pregnancy.
2. Support for Growing Uterus
As the uterus expands, the pelvic floor muscles provide crucial support to prevent strain and discomfort.
3. Preparation for Labor
Pelvic floor exercises enhance the flexibility and strength of the muscles, facilitating an easier and more efficient labor.
4. Reducing Prolapse Risk
Strong pelvic floor muscles reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where organs shift from their normal position.
5. Enhanced Circulation
Improved blood circulation in the pelvic region contributes to the overall health of the reproductive organs and reduces swelling.
6. Postpartum Recovery
Well-conditioned pelvic floor muscles aid in postpartum recovery, supporting quicker healing and reducing the risk of complications.
7. Stability for Pelvic Joints
Strengthening the pelvic floor provides stability to pelvic joints, reducing the risk of discomfort or pain.
8. Preventing Back Pain
A strong pelvic floor helps in maintaining good posture, reducing the strain on the back and minimizing back pain.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Incorporate your pelvic floor exercises into your daily routine, for example, do them whenever you brush your teeth, so you don’t have to worry about fitting them in during your day.
- You can stand or sit to do this exercise. Begin with slow, focused breathing. Concentrate on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that you use if you stop urine mid flow).
- Imagine that your pelvic floor muscles are a lift. The doors close and the lift goes up to the first floor, then the second floor, and finally the third floor. Tune into your body.
- Slowly tighten your pelvic floor, lifting the muscles inwards and upwards, remembering to breathe. Continue lifting up, mindfully pausing for five seconds at each “floor”.
- Once you reach the third floor, pause for five seconds, then slowly release the muscles (don’t just let go) as you descend floor by floor. It can be hard to hold the squeeze in the beginning, so if necessary build up to five seconds and eventually up to about eight seconds. Slow, focused breathing helps when practicing this exercise.
- Repeat this exercise several times a day, for example, when you put on your makeup, while practicing yoga, or even while cooking.
Pelvic floor exercises are a fundamental component of prenatal care, offering numerous benefits for both the mother and the developing baby. By incorporating these exercises into a daily routine, pregnant women can promote a healthier pregnancy, facilitate a smoother labor, and contribute to their overall well-being during this transformative period