Whether you delivered a baby vaginally or by C-Section, the pelvic floor muscles can become strained and weak from pregnancy. This weakness can be exacerbated by vaginal delivery which can result in tearing of the muscles and episiotomy. The good news is that these muscles will heal just as any other muscles would, and they will respond to certain exercises with improved strength. The following exercises isolate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles following child birth.
Immediately Post-Partum Exercises:
Pelvic Floor Muscle Activation
This exercise may be done within 24 hours of delivery in the hospital bed or at home. Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet shoulder width apart. Imagine that your urethra is a telescope and your body is a submarine, pull the urethra up and into your body. This activates the pelvic floor muscles and is also known as a Kegel. Childbirth can result in significant stretching or tearing of the pelvic floor muscles, which can make it difficult to sense the muscles contracting. A mirror can be a helpful tool to determine whether or not the pelvic floor muscles are squeezing and drawing inward as they should be. Your gluteal muscles should not be contracting, and your pelvis should remain perfectly still, not rocking or tilting.
Hold the contraction for 5 seconds. Rest for 5 seconds.
Repeat 10 times. Do this at least 3 times per day.
Progression: After 3-4 weeks post-partum, progress this towards a 10 second hold for each repetition.
Pelvic Brace Exercise:
This exercise combines the pelvic floor and deep abdominal contraction exercises. Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet hip width apart. Find a neutral pelvic and low back alignment by gently rocking your pelvis until you find a position that is pain free and allows a slight window of space between the low back and the floor. Ideally the pelvis will be parallel with the ceiling. Inhale through your nose, then exhale as if blowing out birthday candles while simultaneously contracting your pelvic floor muscles and very gently contracting your abdominal muscles down and inward as if you were being shrink wrapped around your abdomen.
Hold 5 seconds. This bracing contraction should also be done when lifting your baby.
Repeat 10 times. Do this 3 times per day.
4 Weeks Post-Partum
Bent Knee fallout:
Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet planted shoulder width apart. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and gently draw in the abdominals as done above. Slowly bring one knee out to the side 45 degrees, then slowly bring it back up to starting position maintaining the kegel the entire time the leg is moving. The primary intention of this exercise is to keep the pelvis and low back still while the leg is moving.
Repeat 5 times on each side. Do this 2 times per day.
Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet planted shoulder width apart. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and abdominals. Then lift your hips gently off the floor without rocking your pelvis. Pause, then gently set your hips back down onto the floor, maintaining the kegel throughout the entire movement. .
Repeat 10 times. Do this 2 times per day.
8-12 Weeks Post-Partum:
Once the previous exercises become easier and your pelvic floor muscles have healed, you may progress these basic Kegel exercises by adding a vaginal weight. Vaginal weights have been shown in research to be effective in strengthening the pelvic floor and reducing incidence rates of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. The great thing about vaginal weights is that as the pelvic floor becomes stronger you can progress the weight as you would with strength training of other muscle groups-remember, these are muscles too. More information about Intimate Rose vaginal weights can be found here. These weights are covered in a smooth and safe silicone that is easy to wash and comfortable on the body. The set comes with discreet packaging, instructions for use, and excellent customer support.
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