BENEFITS OF TONING THESE MUSCLES FOR PREGNANCY AND BEYOND.
- Helps the body´s ability to support the weight of the growing baby as pregnancy hormones will soften the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor and the weight of the baby will also stretch these muscles.
- Reduces the incidence of stress incontinence, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.
- Improves circulation. Helps healing from tearing and or stitches.
- Helps postpartum recovery- the pelvic floor muscles will recover more effectively and quickly after birth if tones during pregnancy. Ensures good recovery of vaginal and perineal tissues after birth.
- Helps to prevent or relieve haemorrhoids, vulva varicose veins.
- Prevents prolapse
- Enhances sensory awaraness
- It is helpful to learn how to release and relax pelvic floor muscles for when you give birth. ´breathe the baby out´- which can reduce likelihood of tearing.
- Can shorten the second stage of labour.
- Helps core support.
(SQUATTING OR THE SLOW-DOWN POSITION, are good positions to practice pelvic floor toning, the second one particularly if squatting is contraindicated.
For static exercises, in which we are just focusing on enhancing pelvic floor awareness and strengthening these muscles, the breathing is reversed, we engage on the inhale and release as we exhale.
The rationale for this is when we are giving birth we need to learn how to relax and breathe out to open to the process. Birth is the ultimate practise in letting go and surrender and will happen much more organically if we can use the breath to completely soften the pelvic floor (rather than tense up) and ultimately ´breathe´the baby out.
While it is important to tone (especially for postnatal recovery) equally (and for some even more so) it is important to learn how to turn these muscles off.
Incorporating Kegels into a prenatal class will be very beneficial as ´conscious birth preparation´.
WAYS TO FIND THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES ARE:
- Trying to stop the flow of urine midstream will activate the pelvic floor correctly. The longer you can hold without releasing any urine will give you an idea of your pelvic floor strength. (this should only be done as an exercise to locate the pelvic floor or test the progression of strength, not as an exsercise for toning).
- Insert a clean moist finger (or 2 if necessary) into the vagina and as you contract the muscles you should feel them tighten around the finger, moving inwards and upwards.
- Use a mirror to see the vagina. If muscles are correctly activated the clitoris will move towards the vagina and the anus will pucker inwards.
- Using the abdominal muscles
- Tightening the buttocks
- Squeezing the legs together
- Holding the breath.