Kegel exercises for pregnant women: everything you need to know

Certain exercises, such as Kegel, are highly recommended during pregnancy. The main reason is that help pregnant women to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which are the ones that support the bladder, uterus and rectum.

With its practice, a woman develops the ability to relax and control the muscles in this area, which is useful when labor arrives. It is even advisable to do them postpartum as well, as they promote healing of the perineal tissues and increase urinary control.

What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises are named after their creator, the gynecologist Arnold Kegel (1894 – 1972), who designed them with the aim of improving muscle tone and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, they tend to stretch during pregnancy and delivery.

Done correctly, these exercises can minimize stretching and strengthen muscles in the pelvic and vaginal area. And it is that, as the fetus increases in size inside the uterus, the pelvic floor muscles must bear more and more weight. Thus, sometimes, they end up not doing their job well.

Occasional urine leakage when coughing, sneezing, or moving fast is due to these muscles are overloaded and they cannot support the bladder as they usually do.

However, Kegel exercises can be applied in other situations, for example, in case of stress urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence, both in men and women. In the case of women, they also help treat pelvic organ prolapse and improve sexual intercourse.

Kegel exercises are indicated for pregnant women, as they contribute to the strengthening of the pelvic floor.

Kegel exercises characteristics

With these exercises what you do is contract and then relax the pelvic floor muscles for short periods. It is better to do short sets several times a day. The routine is fast and does not require any type of apparatus. In addition, it can be done anywhere, with different postures and at any time.

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What are its benefits in pregnancy?

Kegel exercises for pregnant women are recommended by gynecologists and midwives. Several studies show that its practice before, during and after pregnancy can reduce the chances of incontinence and other pelvic floor problems.

Also, research suggests that women who do these exercises may have a slightly shorter active phase of labor than other women. They have even been shown to improve sexual health and pleasure. Let's look at its benefits in detail.

Control over the pelvic floor muscles

Doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy helps develop the ability to relax and control the pelvic floor muscles as part of the preparation for childbirth. This makes labor easier and helps a woman feel more confident and capable.

Better bladder control

Many women experience urine leakage during pregnancy or after giving birth. The risk of urine leakage increases with a vaginal delivery, especially if a tear has occurred or if an episiotomy has been performed. The risk also increases as you have more children.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Kegel training in pregnancy also it is an adjunct to prevent conditions such as urinary incontinence, which involves the escape of a few drops of urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing or doing some kind of physical effort (especially if there is impact).

Strengthening the support of the pelvic organs

Vaginal delivery can lead to prolapse of the pelvic organs; This is when the uterus, urethra, or intestine sink into the vagina. It occurs because during pregnancy and delivery the muscles of the pelvic region weaken. Consequently, support for the organs in the area decreases.

To avoid this, the doctor Kegel exercises are often recommended not only during pregnancy, but also after delivery.

Reduced risk of fecal incontinence

Fecal incontinence is a condition that involves the loss of stool before going to the bathroom. As with urinary incontinence, practicing Kegel training can help prevent it.

In addition to making labor easier, practicing Kegel exercises reduces the risk of urinary and fecal incontinence.

How to do Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises are easy to do. The mechanism is very simple: tighten and relax the same muscles that are used to stop the flow of urine. In particular, the following should be put into practice:

  1. Locate the correct muscles.
  2. Squeeze these muscles, relax and repeat.

If you have difficulty locating these muscles or making the contraction, you can test it while urinating, stopping urination for a few seconds and releasing. However, you should keep in mind that this can only be done at the beginning, not as a regular exercise.

Once the mechanism is understood, there are a number of Kegel exercises that can be performed. For example, the following:

  • Long wait. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and hold them there for several seconds. Then relax for a few seconds and repeat. You may only be able to hold it for a second or two at first, but after a few weeks you can gradually increase the hold time, until you can hold for 10 seconds. Repeat several times.
  • Collapse and drop. Quickly squeeze and relax your pelvic floor muscles, several times in a row.
  • Hold three, relax three. Squeeze for three seconds and relax for another three. Repeat several times.

You can also read: What physical exercise can a pregnant woman do?

How often can I do them?

Kegel exercises should be done every day, in several sessions spread throughout the day, in short periods. It is advisable to start small and do several exercises for a few minutes. In general, the ideal thing is to do 3 sessions a day, with several series of exercises, until completing about 50 repetitions.

It is never too late to start Kegel exercises during pregnancy. But the earlier a daily routine is started, the greater the benefits.