How to improve your pelvic floor muscles after childbirth
(And why you need to)
“Kegel exercises” aka “Pelvic Floor Lifts,” ever heard of them?
Kegel exercises are well-known amongst women for helping to avoid urinary incontinence, prevent vaginal prolapse and even improve sexual performance and libido but here we are going to talk about how they can help you after childbirth and offer some alternatives for toning your pelvic floor.
What are kegel exercises and why are they so important?
Why do Kegel Exercises?
Childbirth massively stretches the muscles of the pelvic floor and unless you do something about that there are consequences. Kegels are a way to tighten your pelvic floor muscles. Also, these exercises can limit the chances of frequently occurring problems like stress incontinence by strengthening muscles around the vagina and urethra and haemorrhoids through increasing circulation in the area.
Completing short kegel exercises throughout the day during your pregnancy can help to give you an easier birth and preventing issues afterwards. After you have given birth, you can use both kegel exercises and weights to strengthen the pelvic floor.
Around a third of new mothers experience stress incontinence months after delivery so you should not feel embarrassed if you are going through this. It is easily treatable and can be vastly improved through kegel exercises to tighten the pelvic floor. Additionally, kegel exercises have even been reported to improve sex by increasing vaginal tone and lubrication and enhancing orgasms.
The exercises should be integrated into your daily routine and you can do this by completing them while doing certain activities. For instance, you could do kegel exercises every time you are in the shower.
Kegel exercises vs weights
It’s important not to overdo it with kegel exercises since over-strengthening the muscles will hinder rather than help but using kegel weights and their recommended programme will give you a great balance. Kegel weights are also useful since they make it easier to identify the pelvic floor muscles.
It is possible with kegel exercises to involve other muscles which will make the process less effective. Up to 50% of women struggle to find their pelvic floor muscles correctly but kegel weights help with this issue.
Kegel weights are a natural and effective way of strengthening the muscles in around 15 minutes a day. Kegel exercises and weights lower the risk of incontinence after birth and aid recovery with problems like tearing. They can be used six weeks after childbirth and results can usually be seen within a few weeks of regular use. It is important to keep up with the exercises since if you stop doing them your muscles can weaken again.
- Pilates and core exercises such as squats For women that struggle with kegel exercises, it has been found that certain activities like pilates can help your pelvic floor.
- Electrical stimulation Some people are unable to complete the kegel exercises without outside assistance like electrical stimulation which will run an electrical current through a probe while you complete the exercises.
- Biofeedback A technique for monitoring your pelvic floor exercises which helps people track their progress and motivate people to carry out the routine.
- Bladder training If your main worry is incontinence, then you can learn methods to increase the time between the moment you recognise the need to urinate and actually going to the toilet.
- Lifestyle changes When suffering from stress or urge incontinence after birth, making changes like reducing the caffeine in your diet or altering the amount you drink may help.
- Medical and surgical intervention If no significant improvements are seen with symptoms like stress incontinence, your GP may find it necessary to recommend medication or surgery.
Whether you have had a straightforward delivery or it involved intervention such as a caesarean, it’s still important to work out your pelvic floor muscles. This is because pregnancy will have put strain on the pelvic floor no matter what the birth method.
It is clear that working out your pelvic floor muscles can help women to recover after birth and get rid of certain unwanted issues postpartum. Even if you are not experiencing any problems like incontinence right now, the techniques listed can help as a preventative measure for the future.
Written by William Fryer MA Oxon.