Using Kegel Exercises for Pregnancy and Postpartum Wellness
It goes without saying, but pregnancy is hard on the body in soooo many ways. Fortunately, there are tools and exercises out there that help prepare the body, support it through pregnancy, and help with recovery during postpartum. One of the key exercises that we encourage people with vaginas to do are kegels, and fortunately, they help with all phases of the pregnancy process.
Whether or not someone has a vaginal birth, carrying a baby for nine months puts a lot of strain on all of the muscles and organs in the body. The pelvic floor muscles carry a lot of that strain, literally and figuratively, as they work to support not only the weight of the baby but the function of the organs such as the bladder, anus, and digestive tract. Fortunately, consistent kegel exercises during pregnancy can strengthen the muscles and make it easier for all of the important functions throughout the process.
Why Kegels Are Beneficial for Pregnant Women
A kegel is really just a muscle contraction, which, when done repeatedly, increases muscle strength, elasticity, and blood flow. So, why should women do kegel exercises for pregnancy? Because they strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which allows the muscle to function better and bounce back after going through the stressors of giving birth.
Some of the main benefits that women see when they have a strong kegel exercise routine before, during, and after pregnancy include:
- An easier time getting pregnant. Healthy, strong pelvic floor muscles produce more natural lubrication, which allows the sperm to move more effectively through the body.
- More strength to push during birth. Stronger muscles mean your body can work harder to move the body through the birthing canal.
- Better control over leakage (urine, gas, fecal). This is true before, during, and especially after pregnancy. Many women — 66% — experience some form of leakage. When the muscles are weak, especially with the added strain of pregnancy, they can sometimes lose the ability to hold back urine or other matter. When the muscles are stronger, they can better control the bodily functions and bounce back faster after giving birth.
- Faster recovery after giving birth. Approximately 48% of women worry about laxity before they get pregnant, so establishing a good kegel routine ahead of time can help your body recover more quickly after pregnancy. This improved elasticity of the muscle can reduce the chance of tears during the birthing process.
Overall, kegel exercises for pregnancy can lead to better function and control before, during, and after birth.
When Should I Start Doing Kegels During Pregnancy?
You’ve learned about the awesome benefits of a strong pelvic floor. Your next excited question is probably can you do kegels during pregnancy. If you’re already pregnant and don’t have a kegel routine in place, we recommend consulting with a doctor before starting a new exercise. This is also true for the six weeks after giving birth as your body is likely still in recovery and special care needs to be taken.
If you’re planning on getting pregnant in the future or are outside of the six-week postpartum waiting period, we recommend that you start your kegel routine now so that you can start to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Most women can benefit from introducing a kegel routine, no matter their age.
One way to accelerate your pelvic floor strengthening journey before or after pregnancy is to introduce pelvic floor weights. Devices like Kegelbell take the science of kegels and amplify the results by incorporating external weights. By adding weights, people with vaginas can reduce the time spent kegeling from three times a day to just five minutes three times a week in muscle building mode or once a week in maintenance mode.
How to Do Kegels Exercises For Pregnancy
If you’re new to kegels, we recommend that you consult your doctor before getting started with a new routine. Once they’ve cleared you, we recommend the following exercise be done:
- Identify the pelvic floor muscles. When you stop the flow of pee midstream, that muscle sensation is your pelvic floor muscles engaging. Be sure that you’re not contracting other muscles like the abs, glutes, or quads. For someone whose muscles may have atrophied slightly, it may be hard to target your pelvic floor muscles right away.
- Evaluate your current strength. Insert a finger into the vagina and then make a contraction around it. Rate your squeeze level from 1–5. This will give you a baseline to work from as you start to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
- Set a reminder and stick to your kegel exercises for pregnancy routine. Complete the following two set of exercises two or three times a day:
- 20–50 kegels holding each for the established endurance period with 10-second rests
- 20-50 kegels holding for 1-second flickers of contraction with 1-second rests
- Be patient! It can take up to 12 weeks to build new muscle fibers and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Patience can be hard in a busy world. Be kind to yourself.
Want to learn more advanced tips for kegel exercises postpartum? Download our Kegel Guide.
When to Avoid Kegels as a Pregnant Woman
The best thing to do when introducing a new workout routine, especially when pregnant, is to consult your doctor first. We also recommend that women wait for kegels after childbirth until they’re at least six weeks postpartum. As a general rule, though, if there’s any sharp pain or discomfort, stop the workout and contact your doctor. People with overly tight and contracted pelvic muscle, called “hypertonic,” should also avoid any new kegel routines unless cleared by their doctor.
Supercharge Your Kegels Routine
If you’re planning to get pregnant or are postpartum and don’t have the time to kegel three times a day or are looking for a new challenge for your pelvic floor muscles, it may be time to explore vaginal weight lifting with Kegelbell. Kegelbell incorporates external weights to accelerate the pelvic floor muscle building. Our customers report that not only do they see reduced or eliminated leakage, but they also see improved laxity, increased natural lubrication, more intense orgasms, and much more.
While many people come to Kegelbell for bladder leakage, they continue to use it for all the other benefits, including addressing laxity. Learn more about how you can take your kegel routine to the next level with Kegelbell.