Get It Right, Get It Tight: Why Kegels Matter After Childbirth
Kegels aren’t just for your sex life. This pelvic-floor strengthening exercise can help with a number of postpartum issues.
Words: Karlyn Quinn
Congratulations, you’ve just given birth to a healthy, beautiful baby!
While the fourth trimester can feel like a whirlwind of both time and emotion, you may be ready to get back into a self-care routine—and a major part of this may include working on your sexual health. A great way to start your postpartum self-care regimen is focusing on regaining your pelvic floor strength.
A woman’s pelvic floor is a cluster of muscles, ligaments, and tissue that stretches across the pelvic bones. It’s responsible for supporting various organs such as the bladder, uterus, vagina, and bowels. During both pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic muscles stretch due to various factors such as the weight of your baby, hormones, and the strain that occurs during labor.
As soon as you’re ready and cleared by your doctor, getting back into an exercise regime is a great way to re-strengthen your pelvic floor. Regardless your delivery, strengthening your pelvic floor post baby is crucial, however, if you’ve given birth via cesarean, it’s suggested to wait until you’re fully healed to resume any type of exercise.
There are several routes to take when looking to tighten things up down south, but one of the most common is doing your kegels. Kegels are beneficial because they cause the pelvic floor muscles to contract and relax, which helps with postpartum issues such as bladder and bowel incontinence.
In order to perform a proper kegel, you must first be sure your bladder is completely empty. Next, while sitting or lying down, tighten your pelvic floor muscles and count to five, then relax the muscles for five. For best results, repeat this exercise 10 times, three times daily. In addition to helping with incontinence, doing your kegels can aid in reducing painful intercourse, allowing for a more enjoyable experience.
Like any exercise, if not done properly, kegels can cause more harm than good. This may result from over stimulating your pelvic floor muscles by contracting them too much. If you find yourself in pain after participating in kegel exercises, it’s likely that you’re over-contracting, which can cause irreversible damage to your pelvic floor. To avoid this, take a break from your kegels and instead practice some relaxation techniques that can help guide you through the pain.
While kegels are great for pelvic floor health, they are not the end all be all. If you’ve been practicing your kegels but are still experiencing symptoms such as pelvic pain, a heavy feeling in the vagina, or trouble passing a bowel movement, you should consult your healthcare provider immediately as they can further refer you to treatment such as pelvic physical therapy. If this option does not help, it’s possible you may be a candidate for a more extreme procedure such as pelvic floor repair surgery.
Maintaining your pelvic floor health is essential both after childbirth and to maintain good sexual health in general. It positively impacts bladder control, helps posture and does wonders for your sex life. It’s something you can do in the privacy of your own home and it’s a quick-and-easy workout women may want to consider taking time out of their day to do.