Are you expecting? Congratulations! But before we dive into the joys of pregnancy, let's talk about something that isn't so glamorous - kegel exercises. Yes, they're essential for a smooth pregnancy and childbirth, but let's face it - nobody enjoys them. So why not add some humor to this necessary routine?
What Are Kegel Exercises and Why Do You Need Them?
Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, uterus, and bowel (ever felt like you were going to pee when you sneeze or laugh too hard? That's because these muscles are weakened during pregnancy). Strengthening these muscles with kegels can help prevent urinary incontinence during and after pregnancy as well as aid in postpartum recovery (trust us, peeing yourself while chasing after a toddler is not cute).
How To Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Before we get started with the actual workouts (let's be honest though, nothing screams 'workout' less than kegels) we need to find our pelvic floor muscles first. Here are three easy ways:
- Pretend like you're trying to stop yourself from peeing midstream
- Tighten your anus (yes really)
- While sitting on the toilet try contracting the muscles used to push out urine
How Often Should You Do Kegels During Pregnancy?
Ah yes, here comes everyone’s favorite workout question - how often should I do kegels? Ideally aim for 3 sets of 10 each day; however doing more than this will not hurt anyone (although attempting them in public may cause some unwarranted attention). It may also be beneficial for those who play sports that require intense physical movements (we’re looking at you Crossfitters).
Can Men Do Kegels Too?
Although kegels are significant for pregnant women, this does not mean that men can’t do them too. In reality, it is a preventative measure to keep the muscles healthy and strong during old age.
Top Five Common Mistakes With Kegel Exercises
Despite how simple these workouts may seem, there are still many common mistakes you may find yourself making:
- You’re clenching the wrong muscles (you should NOT be contracting your abs)
- Holding your breath while performing kegels is not recommended
- You're pushing out when you should be pulling in (no pushing allowed until it's time to push!)
- Performing kegels with a full bladder can cause more harm than good
- Failing to train all three muscle layers of pelvic floor will result in an incomplete workout.
Advanced Kegeling Techniques
Now that you are aware of the basic principles of kegel exercises here are some advanced training techniques; If standard 10-second holds aren't cutting it anymore:
- Quick squeezes: Contract and release as fast as possible.
- Slow releases: Hold for several seconds before releasing slowly.
- Bridging: (this isn't an exercise in construction) Squeeze twice every other second repeatedly
- Leg incline squeeze: Place pen between knees and bring heels up towards glutes one at a time
Taking It Up A Notch - Resistance Training
Feeling like 50 reps just doesn’t get your heart rate pumping? That’s where resistance training comes into play! Look online or visit any pregnancy-based store; they offer various forms such as weighted balls or cones designed specifically to assist with added resistance during contraction.
Additionally, if you’re looking for something low-cost/free why not try everyday household items such as placing unused tampon applicators between legs measuring durability during contractions?
Benefits of Pregnancy-Specific Workouts
The good news is that there are multiple other exercises that have been tailor-made for women preparing for birth such as:
- Tailor sit
- Squats (but not the type of squat you may be thinking)
- Prenatal yoga
These workouts can help promote healthy weight gain and a less painful delivery.
In conclusion, kegels should be an essential part of any pregnant woman’s daily routine. These exercises are low risk/high reward when it comes to preventing incontinence during pregnancy or postpartum recovery discomfort which everyone appreciates after giving birth. So why not add some humor and try advanced techniques like resistance training? Hey, anything's worth trying once!