During your pregnancy your pelvic floor muscles will loosen due to hormonal changes in your body. This loosening, along with your growing baby pressing on your bladder, may cause you to leak urine when you cough, sneeze or exercise. Doing pelvic floor exercises will strengthen these muscles which will assist you during labor, give you a faster recovery afterwards, as well as help prevent urinary incontinence later.
Where are my pelvic floor muscles and how do I find them?
Your pelvic floor muscles are located around and support all the organs in your pelvis, which include the womb, bowels and bladder. To perform a pelvic exercise such as a Kegel, squeezing muscles around the vagina as if you were “stopping the flow of urine”. Lift the muscles in word and upwards. This should all be done while you breathe- a deep exhale to tighten/engage and when you lengthen your pelvic floor, or release, that is when you inhale. You can do pelvic exercises as you sit, stand, lie on your back( if you are already in your 2nd trimester, I would not recommend lying on your back at all), or while you are on all fours.
When do I do a pelvic floor exercises?
You can do pelvic floor exercises anytime of the day, anywhere. You can definitely incorporate them as you work out and exercise. For example, if you are doing a squat, you can do a Kegel as you hold yourself in the squat position.
A few key muscles to work while pregnant:
The transversus abdominis, or transverse, is the innermost abdominal muscle. It in circles your trunk like a corset and involuntarily contracts when you sneeze or laugh ( or make the “sss” sound). The action of this muscle compresses the abdominal cavity, and it can help you push during labor. Performing deep core breathing, and other safe exercises involving the core activate this muscle. Make sure you research which movements are safe for you and baby as the belly and baby grow. The main muscle of the pelvic floor lies in a figure eight around the opening of the urethra, vagina and rectum. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, helping to prevent urinary incontinence that can come after childbirth.