Often lauded as the most important exercise for pregnant women to perform, Kegels have proven benefits for strengthening the pelvic and vaginal muscles. The muscles are most frequently activated when a person is trying to hold in urine and can’t go to the bathroom right away. But for pregnant women, the muscles are critical for labor, and the way that Kegels are performed is important. Rather than simply clinching, experts recommend targeting zones starting from back to front. In other words, begin by controlling pelvic muscles towards the anus and slowly work forward towards the vagina.
2. Build up intensity over time
For women that are just beginning to perform Kegels, the exercise may feel awkward and difficult. Rather than trying to work as hard and long as possible, experts recommend starting slow and building up intensity over time. For example, start by tightening the muscles for just 3-5 seconds and then relaxing. Continue contracting and relaxing for up to 5 minutes, up to 3 times a day. Over time, extend the process where contractions last for up to 10 seconds. Eventually, try to practice for 3 sets with 20 repetitions a day.
3. Start Kegels earlier in pregnancy
While most people think of Kegels as something to do once a woman is visibly pregnant, starting earlier can help to build strength over time. Women can begin to practice Kegels even before becoming pregnant. And for women who wonder when to stop Kegels, the truth is that the exercise can provide lifelong benefits and should be incorporated into a regular exercise routine.
Staying strong in preparation of labor and delivery
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life. But the phase is all in preparation for labor and delivery, and of course, parenthood. Other tips to prepare for labor and delivery include eating a balanced diet, attending routine pregnancy doctor’s appointments, and engaging in routine exercise to stay flexible and strong. Along with stretches and low-impact activities, incorporating Kegel exercises into a daily workout plan can aid in making the labor and delivery experience a little bit easier for women. For more information, speak with an OB/GYN or other healthcare provider.