Health Pregnancy

Pregnancy and Benefits of Kegel Exercises

There are several benefits to doing kegel exercises regularly, in pregnancy, during birth and in the years after you are finished having children. Toning these muscles throughout pregnancy helps strengthen them in preparation for giving birth. In addition, you will find that it is easier to relax the muscles of the perineum, which is helpful for natural pain relief during labor.
Pregnant woman thinking about the futureby Patricia Hughes 
You may have heard about kegel exercises from your doctor, at child birth class or read about them in a pregnancy book. Kegel exercises are intended to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. When these muscles are strong, they are less likely to be weakened by the increased pressure of the growing uterus on the bladder and pelvic muscles.
 
There are several benefits to doing kegel exercises regularly, in pregnancy, during birth and in the years after you are finished having children. Toning these muscles throughout pregnancy helps strengthen them in preparation for giving birth. In addition, you will find that it is easier to relax the muscles of the perineum, which is helpful for natural pain relief during labor.
 
Another study found that kegel exercises may help shorten labor. The 2004 study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that women who did kegel exercises on a regular basis were less likely to experience a prolonged second stage of labor. This is the pushing stage. This group was also less likely to need a c section. For more information check out: http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/628
 
Regularly exercising the pelvic floor muscles offers other benefits during labor and delivery. Well toned muscles will give you better control over the muscles, whether relaxing the muscles during labor or using them more efficiently during the birthing stage. This control and tone also translates into a lower risk of tearing the perineum during labor and a lower risk of needing an episiotomy.
 
Kegel exercises in pregnancy and after offers benefits later in life. Stress incontinence is a fairly common problem during pregnancy and is caused by pressure on the pelvic muscles and made worse by weak muscles. For some women, this is a problem that continues after pregnancy. It also gets worse with age. Strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor will help prevent these problems.
 
The best way to find your kegel muscles is to stop the stream of urine when you are going to the bathroom. This is the muscle contraction you will use when you are doing kegels. Start by relaxing the muscles and then slowly contract them, hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat this process several times and do this a few times each day. It takes just a few minutes and no one even knows you are doing it.
 
So how often should you do these exercises? Experts suggest 200 kegels per day should be the goal for optimum benefits. This seems like a huge number, but you can reach that goal by doing the exercises for a few minutes, two or three times during the day.
 
For some women, the problem is remembering to do the exercises. A helpful suggestion is to do them with certain other activities. This will help you remember to do them. For example, do kegels when you are waiting in traffic or during the commercials of your favorite television show. Setting a time for the exercise will increase the chance that you will do them regularly.
 
Always remember, before starting any exercise program, especially when pregnant, check with your physician.

Biography
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.

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