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Kegels – A Lifetime Exercise

by Amelia on June 19, 2008
category: Pregnancy

963185_pregnancy.jpg Kegels.

Pubococcygeus Muscle (PC muscle).

Know what I am talking about?

The Kegel exercise is one that strengthens the pubococcygeus muscle which is part of your pelvic floor. They are called Kegels because it is named after a Dr. Kegel who came up with the exercise of tightening and relaxing the muscle.

Still don’t know what I am talking about?

You may have been told to do some kegel exercises during pregnancy. The simplest way to know if you are doing the exercise correctly is to sit on the toilet while you are peeing and try to stop the flow of urine. When you contract and release your PC muscle you should notice a starting/stopping or slowing of the urine leaving your body.

There are many benefits to “kegeling” for a pregnant woman. First, it can help with urinary incontinence. During pregnancy it is normal for muscles to relax and women often find themselves leaking a little pee when they laugh, sneeze, cough, run etc. Doing Kegels regularly will help prevent urine leaks. Studies have shown that it doesn’t matter whether or not you have had a vaginal birth or c-section—- pregnancy strains or weakens the pelvic floor muscles. It was once believed that having an episiotomy prevented urinary incontinence but studies have shown that doing kegels regularly can help prevent and heal a weakened pelvic floor muscle during pregnancy.

One of the most important benefits of having a strong pelvic floor during pregnancy is that it helps the baby’s chin to be tucked into its chest. This allows the best positioning for the baby’s head to help dilate the cervix and then slip through the pelvis and birth canal. If the baby’s chin isn’t tucked into its chest during birth it can make labor and birth more difficult. Pushing your baby out gently (as opposed to pushing really hard as the baby head crowns and shoulders come out) also helps prevent tearing. Deep perineal tears and episiotomies can also compromise your pelvic floor since your perineum (what is torn or cut) is attached to that muscle. There are many things you can do to help prevent tearing during the pushing part of birth but that is a whole other post!

Kegel exercises are the first exercises you can do after birthing your baby. You can start with the doctor or midwife’s okay 24 hours after the birth.

Kegel exercises benefit women in more ways than urinary continence. It also makes sex more, um, pleasurable for both the woman and her husband/partner. It helps women to have increased blood flow in the sensitive areas during sex and also helps women to have orgasms. When you first start doing Kegels after the baby is born it is quite difficult but it gets easier as time goes on and it is definitely worth it! I always laugh at a part in Jenny McCarthy’s book Baby Laughs where she and her husband would joke about whether or not sex would feel like “throwing a hot dog down a hallway” after having a baby. Kegel exercises prevent postpartum sex from feeling like that!

Older women tend to have more problems with urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse (when pelvic organs slip down too far). Practicing Kegels throughout one’s lifetime can promote a better sex life, less urinary and bowel incontinence, and healthy pelvic organ placement. The hardest thing about the very simple Kegel exercise is remembering to do them.

In order to get started all you need is a few quiet moments to concentrate and make sure you are doing them correctly. Keep the kids out of the bathroom a time or two (easier said than done, I know!) so you can have some peace and quiet. Try to start and stop the urine flow while you are peeing. Once you get the hang of how the muscle works you can now do your Kegels anywhere! It is actually not recommended to do them on the toilet (regularly) because it could encourage bacteria to flow back into the bladder which can cause a bladder infection.

You can Kegel at red lights, while watching tv, folding laundry, doing the dishes, playing legos–whatever works for you.

Start by:

Doing 50 a day for a few weeks. Then work your way up to 100 a day for a few weeks. Then 200 a day.

Some patterns of Kegels:

Contract and then let fade away


Contract, Hold for 2 seconds, Release

Contract, Contract, Contract, Hold, Release, Release, Release (like stair steps)

If you work your way through the patterns, I think you will see an improvement in your PC muscle over the next month. Good luck!

5 Responses to Kegels – A Lifetime Exercise

  • Comment by Amanda
    June 19, 2008 @ 9:46 am

    I did A LOT of kegels before my labor and delivery (from your suggestion) and I totally believe that they helped! The doctor even complimented my control while I was pushing to my husband. I think it was the kegels. I didn’t realize that they probably helped my speedy recovery after delivery.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by brittany
    June 19, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

    I need to be more on top of these, thanks for the reminder, I am do my 50 now:)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Vered
    June 19, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

    Thank you – this is highly informative! I try to do these every day, and I agree that this is something that every woman needs to do EVERY DAY.

  • Comment by Sharon M
    June 22, 2008 @ 9:27 am

    Thanks for the info, Amelia — you know, I’ve read so many articles about Kegals and they never said how many to do!!! Frustrating. So, now I am armed with knowledge — and doing my Kegals while I nurse :-)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Velma
    June 25, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

    This is a great post – much more informative than most on this subject, and simple. Plus I’d never heard that about the baby’s chin, but it totally makes sense that strong muscles in your pelvic floor would be helpful during childbirth, duh!

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