One of the most important exercises that you can do whilst you are pregnant is actually kegels. Kegel exercises forare extremely important, but there is a fair amount of mis-information out there about how to do a Kegel and why they are important.
The most important reason to do them is because a lot of people, both pregnant and post-partum, experience a fair amount of incontinence. There is a recent study that said almost 60% of women who have babies, experience incontinence post-partum. What that means is that they are peeing when they sneeze, when they cough, when they jump, and especially when they exercise. So if you think that you want to exercise after you have your baby, then you definitely want to do your Kegels while you are pregnant.
There are a couple of different ways of doing Kegels. The most common way that people talk about them, is that a Kegel is what it feels like when you hold your pee (when you stop mid-flow) although it is important to know when you are pregnant that you do not want to do that – that is totally the way to get a UTI or a bladder infection. So, we are just explaining that that is the feeling of a Kegel, but don’t do it while you are actually going to the bathroom.
So, the two ways to work a Kegel is long and slow, or short and fast. We call the long and slow version, elevators, and the faster version is called the quick flick.
When most people are doing a Kegel, they are going to be sitting upright, however when you are pregnant, that is not actually the most helpful way of doing it. Try to imagine your, it’s pretty big, it goes from your pubic bone to your tailbone, to your hip bones, so it’s a big area, and then you’ll have a baby sitting on, or their head resting, right on top of it. That is a lot of weight on a big muscle, so if you’re upright, it’s going to be a lot harder to lift and release, so it is actually more helpful, when you’re pregnant, to be lying on your side or in the tabletop position (on your hands and knees).
Laying Down Elevators
To start with, lie down on your side on your mat, or wherever it is comfortable for you to be laying down – you could do this in your bed or if you like watching TV, on the couch. Support your head in the hand of your lower arm, and bend your knees slightly for stability.
So, for the elevator, what you want to be working on, is slowly drawing up and then slowly releasing, the pelvic floor.
To start with, imagine you are going to work the three storeys of your elevator – so, lift your elevator to the first floor, and then squeeze and lift to the second floor, keep breathing as you do these, and then all the way up to the third floor drawing all the way up – you want to hold this as tight as you can at the top, take a big breath, and hold for a count of 5 before slowly releasing down to the second floor, first floor and all the way released down to the bottom. The release is just as important as the lift and the hold at the top, so ensure the release is controlled. And repeat four more times.
Table Top Position for Quick Flicks
Get into position on your hands and knees on your mat – your hands on the floor directly beneath yourand your knees directly beneath the hips. In this position the baby can really drop away from your pelvic floor and from your lower back. So, for the quick flick, you want to just lift and release your pelvic floor – so, pull up and release, up and release as fast as you can – make sure you are breathing. As you lift and release, lift and release, inhale up and exhale down.
To do a series of these kegel exercises for pregnant women, you probably want to do about 30 seconds of each of the above exercises, that’s all you want to do – you don’t need to do more than that – probably 5 to 6 of the elevator and 20 or so quick flicks. That should be sufficient to train your pelvic floor whilst you are pregnant, not only in readiness of birth and labour, but also in readiness of exercising post-partum.