Summary: Strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy is important for preventing complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It can also aid in postpartum recovery. Here are some tips on how to strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy.
1. Practicing Kegels
Kegels are exercises that target the muscles of the pelvic floor. To perform a Kegel, squeeze the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine and hold for five seconds before releasing. Repeat this exercise ten times in a row. Do these exercises throughout the day to improve muscle strength and endurance. You can also try holding the squeeze for longer periods of time, gradually working up to 10 seconds at a time.
If you’re having trouble identifying the correct muscles, try this: insert a finger into your vagina and then squeeze around it; you should feel the muscles tighten around your finger. Alternatively, sit or lie down with your arms and legs relaxed. Focus on squeezing your pelvic floor muscles without tensing your abdomen or buttocks.
Try to work up to three sets of ten Kegels per day. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to start seeing improvement in muscle strength.
2. Staying Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water can help prevent constipation and reduce the risk of bladder infections, which can put extra strain on the pelvic floor muscles. Aim for about eight to ten glasses of water per day. If plain water doesn’t appeal to you, try adding slices of fruit or cucumber to your water bottle.
Additionally, avoid drinks that can irritate your bladder, such as caffeinated beverages and alcohol, and try to urinate frequently to avoid putting extra strain on the pelvic floor muscles.
Finally, be sure to maintain a healthy, fiber-rich diet to avoid constipation, which can also put strain on the pelvic floor muscles.
3. Incorporating Squats into Your Exercise Routine
Squats can help improve pelvic floor strength and flexibility, as well as prepare your body for labor and delivery. To perform a squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly lower yourself down as if you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Your knees should be behind your toes, and your weight should be over your heels. Hold for five seconds before standing back up. Repeat 10-15 times.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find it more challenging to perform full squats. Try using a wall or chair for support, or decrease the range of motion by only lowering yourself partway down.
If you have any discomfort or pain while doing squats, stop immediately and talk to your healthcare provider.
4. Maintaining Good Posture
Good posture can help you maintain proper alignment and take pressure off your pelvic floor muscles. When sitting, make sure both feet are flat on the ground, and use a pillow or cushion to support your back if needed. You can also try sitting on an exercise ball, which can engage your core muscles and promote good posture.
When standing, keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet, and avoid locking your knees or slouching. Tucking your chin slightly can help align your entire spine.
Finally, be mindful of your posture while lifting objects as well. Use your legs, not your back, to lift, and avoid twisting your body.
5. Trying Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga can help improve pelvic floor strength, flexibility, and relaxation. Many poses in yoga target the muscles of the pelvic floor, such as the bridge pose, pigeon pose, and goddess pose. Additionally, yoga can help reduce stress and promote overall physical and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy.
However, it’s important to find a prenatal yoga class that is taught by a certified instructor who can modify poses as needed for your pregnancy. Avoid any poses that cause discomfort or pain, and be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.
Strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy can help prevent complications during pregnancy and delivery and aid in postpartum recovery. Practicing Kegels, staying hydrated, incorporating squats, maintaining good posture, and trying prenatal yoga are all effective ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.