Pelvic Floor (Kegel) Exercises During and After Pregnancy
The pelvic floor is a "hammock" of muscles attached to the
pelvic girdle. These muscles hold the pelvic organs in place. Pelvic floor, or
Kegel, exercises strengthen your lower pelvic muscles. This helps prevent a
long period of pushing during labor.1 Start doing
daily Kegel exercises while you are pregnant, and continue doing them after
pregnancy and delivery, the pelvic floor can become stretched and weakened,
commonly causing urine control problems (urinary incontinence) for months to years after childbirth. A weakened pelvic
floor can also allow one or more pelvic organs to sag, as in the case of
uterine prolapse. Doing regular Kegel exercises helps
prevent urine control problems (incontinence) after childbirth.2, 3
How to do Kegel exercises
Identify the pelvic floor muscles involved by
purposely stopping the flow of urine in midstream and then allowing the urine
to flow again. These are the muscles that squeeze the urethra and
Remembering what it felt like to control these muscles during
urination, try to contract them when you are not urinating. If your stomach or
buttocks muscles tighten, your pelvic muscles are not being exercised
Tighten your pelvic muscles. Hold for 3 seconds, then
relax for 3 seconds.
Repeat the Kegel exercise 10 to 15 times a
session. Try to do this 3 or more times a day.
Kegel exercises are only effective when done regularly.
They can be performed while traveling, at work, or at odd moments during the
day. For example, Kegel-creator of the exercises-recommended doing 5 pelvic
floor exercises when you first wake up, 5 more when you get out of bed, and 5
pelvic floor exercises every half hour all day long.3
Salvesen KÅ, Mørkved S (2004). Randomized controlled
trial of pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy. BMJ, 329(7462): 378-380.
Mørkved S, et al. (2003). Pelvic floor muscle training
during pregnancy to prevent urinary incontinence: A single-blind randomized
controlled trial. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 101(2):
Lentz GM (2007). Physiology of micturition, diagnosis
of voiding dysfunction, and incontinence: Surgical and nonsurgical treatment.
In VL Katz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 5th
ed., pp. 537-568. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
November 10, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 10, 2010
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