After giving birth, many women find that their pelvic floor is weaker than it once was. Leaking a little pee or poop when laughing, sneezing, jumping, or coughing, or if you have a strong, sudden urge to pee just before losing a large amount of urine are some common symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles. You may dismiss these symptoms as “normal” because you hear how common it is to experience these symptoms after giving birth. But common does not mean normal! If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you might benefit from a simple exercise called Kegels. What are Kegel exercises, anyway, and do they really matter? How often should you be doing them, and how do you know if you’re doing them right?

To locate the right muscles to exercise, pause urine mid-stream. The muscles required to do that are the ones you need to practice tightening. Don’t make a habit of doing your exercises in this way, though, as it could keep your bladder from emptying properly. Once you’ve located the right muscles (if you’re still unsure, you can try inserting a finger into your vagina to feel the muscles tightening) hold for three seconds, then relax for three seconds, and repeat. Imagine you’re lifting a marble. Try not to hold your breath or to flex the muscles in your thighs, stomach or buttocks.

Aim for ten to fifteen repetitions at a time, three times a day. Try doing them when waiting for a red light, in the shower, before you go to sleep or get up, or any time you have a little down time! Generally, nobody can tell when you’re doing Kegel exercises.

Start Kegel exercises as soon as you like, but beginning them while pregnant may prevent incontinence issues during pregnancy, could even shorten your active labor, and will make it easier to continue the exercises after your baby arrives when you have other things on your mind. If you’re not sure you’re doing them right or if you don’t find symptom relief after several weeks, talk to your doctor. We strongly recommend working with a pelvic floor physical therapist and if you need help finding one, let us know!

Further reading:

MUTU System–Pelvic floor exercises (beyond kegels) you can do at home!

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