When you're pregnant, you'll begin to experience the oh-so-fun side effects of a squished bladder and lack of muscle control in your belly. After pregnancy, you could be left with a weak pelvic floor that causes you to leak from sneezing, jumping or simply making quick movements. But the pelvic floor is a group of muscles, and therefore, it can be strengthened to perform better.
What is the pelvic floor? It's a group of looped muscles that adhere to the tailbone and hug around the bottom of the bladder where the urethra is. They also encompass your rectum and vagina. Imagine them all in a line from back to front: tailbone, rectum, vagina, urethra. These muscles are key to supporting those organs as well as helping you to enjoy sex and maintain control over those organs' functions.
Strengthen your lady parts while pregnant. Pregnant or not, you're going to do these kegels the same way. Squeezing internally like you're stopping the flow of urine, you'll want to do short and long holds. Try a few shorter holds with a couple seconds in between, then try a few longer holds, up to 10 seconds before releasing. If you're just beginning, stick with the shorter holds for now and work your way up. Click here for advice from another pregnant mom who used kegels during her pregnancy!
Resume kegels postpartum. Talk with your doctor about when to resume this practice, but expect it to be while you're still recovering in the hospital. Following delivery, act like you're a beginner with short holds and low reps once or twice a day. Then build up as you feel best. Even if you've had a Caesarean or forceps birth, you can still practice kegels soon afterward.
Exploring Pelvic Floor Therapy. If kegels aren't cutting it, you could be a prime candidate for pelvic floor therapy. Other than leaking urine, you may also experience lower back pain, straining with bowel movements and discomfort during sex. This type of therapy includes trigger point massage to release knots and tension, deep tissue massage, joint mobilization, biofeedback via electrodes, ultrasound, cold laser and more. Ask your OB for a referral.
If kegels aren't enough, squat. Continue daily kegel exercises, but go back to your roots, too. As primates, humans have the ability to get into a squat position, which is actually a natural resting position. By squatting, you push your pelvis and sacrum into alignment. It depends how deeply you squat and for how long you can hold it. Strong glutes make for a stronger pelvic floor.
>> Read more: April Challenge: 30-Day Squat Challenge – throw this into your routine!