If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard this advice before: “Make sure to get lots of rest! Drink plenty of water! And do Kegels!” But, many women don’t know what a Kegel is, how to do them, or even what they’re for.
So just what is a Kegel? They were named after Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist who started to recommend them back in 1948 to help women with urinary incontinence, or diminished bladder control, which can happen after childbirth. They are done to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor.
It’s important to keep that area in good shape. The pelvic floor does lots: it helps guides the baby’s head down the birth canal, provides support to your bladder, uterus and bowel. (A sturdy pelvic floor helps you hold on to a full bladder!) Also, your pelvic floor muscles tighten to prevent you from peeing when you cough, sneeze, laugh and move. Because Kegels make the circulation in your rectal and vaginal area better, they may help reduce or avoid hemorrhoids and possibly help in speeding up healing after an episiotomy or tear during childbirth.
To do kegel, you need to find those muscles first. The next time you’re peeing, stop mid-pee. The muscles that you used to do that are the ones you’re looking for. Now, you’re ready to do a Kegel: contract that muscle you found, and hold it. Repeat 10 more times.
Begin with doing kegels a few at a time during your day. As your muscles feel stronger, you can do more contractions each day and increase the length of time you hold each contraction, up to ten seconds. Do them in sets of 10, and try to work up to 3-4 sets around 3 times per day.
Some sites will suggest you do kegels while you’re at the grocery store, brushing your teeth, making dinner, etc. but they’re more effective if they have your full attention. They are pretty easy to do, and don’t need anything more than your ability to flex. Try to do them regularly; about 12 reps a once a day.
Here’s a great video on pelvic floors and why it’s important to keep them strong:
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