Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a lot of changes to aid the baby’s development. Some of these changes are hormonal, whereas others are physical. When you’re aware of these changes, helping your body can help your adaptation process. The same goes for strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy.
Strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy can help you to prevent complications during childbirth. As such, specialists recommend following a routine of simple exercises that target the pelvic area. In the case of pregnant women, these exercises reduce the chances of suffering a uterine prolapse, or postpartum incontinence.
What can weaken the pelvic floor?
Weight is one of the most common factors that affect the pelvic floor. As the pregnancy progresses, these muscles face the challenge of protecting nearby organs. In addition, the hormonal changes favor muscular distention.
Another important factor is genetics. Some women are much more likely to suffer a weakening of the pelvic floor. The main reason is that their muscles and ligaments were weaker to begin with.
Finally, there are sports that can affect the functioning of the pelvic floor. This is the case with high impact sports, such as running and weightlifting. These exercises can have a greater impact on a second pregnancy, since the pelvic area has already experienced a previous pregnancy.
Strengthening your pelvic floor during pregnancy
Most people with a weak pelvic floor can experience incontinence. Furthermore, they can also have sexual dysfunction or pain during sexual intercourse. Many cases of prolapse and abdominal distention have also been observed.
Kegel exercises are the favored exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor during pregnancy. This routine involves contracting and releasing the pelvic muscles to strengthen their ability to support the changes in your body. First of all, you have to know which muscles make up your pelvic floor muscles.
- Identify the pelvic floor. A simple way to do this is to wait until your bladder is full. When you urinate, release your urine gradually. It’s also important to control your sphincter to completely stop the flow.
- Clenching exercises. To perform Kegel exercises, it’s preferable to lie down with your back against the floor. Place your upper and lower back on the floor and bend your knees. The routine consists of four to five minute sessions of clenching your pelvic floor, followed by breaks of eight to ten minutes.
- Rapid clenching. Here, you’ll have to contract and release your muscles quickly and repeatedly. This exercise is quite tiring, so it’s important not to overdo it.
- Slow clenching. Muscle contractions and rest periods are longer with slow clenching. We recommend performing at least ten repetitions.
- The transverse muscle. To activate this muscle (that’s located in the lower part of your abdomen), lie with your back against the floor. The activity involves performing abdominal breaths, feeling that the air flows from the navel.
- Breathing exercises. Breathing exercises activate the abdominal muscles, strengthening the lower area of the body.
Exercises that are beneficial during pregnancy
Regular exercise, along with a balanced diet, contributes to a healthy and happy pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy not only vitalizes the expecting mother, but also improves the baby’s respiratory and circulatory systems.
For these reasons, in most cases, health professionals recommend doing simple exercises after the first trimester. The ones they recommend the most during pregnancy, are walking and swimming.
There are women who were physically active before their pregnancy and can maintain a race pace. However, as a pregnancy progresses, you should limit high impact sports since they can directly affect the pelvic floor muscles. Finally, remember to always maintain the strength of your pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy and after childbirth.