The very best thing about the Kegel exercise (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, the gynecologist who invented it) is the fact that you can do it anywhere, anytime without even breaking a sweat. This important exercise helps to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which support your bowel, bladder and baby. “Kegels take practice and should be done before, during and after pregnancy,” advises Toronto-based prenatal yoga instructor Sarah Lambersky. “They help reduce incontinence during pregnancy and postpartum, they can tone your pelvic floor in preparation for labour and delivery and will help improve sexual gratification once the baby is born.”
Lambersky advises that pregnant women choose a time of day or activity to associate her Kegels with, in order to ensure they’re practiced regularly. “For example commit to practicing your Kegels when you’re on the bus, eating lunch or watching TV before bed,” she says. “This exercise is also regularly integrated into prenatal yoga classes.”
How to Kegel:
These rapid contractions often take a bit of practice. First you have to identify the muscle you’re trying to work. Remember not to hold your breath, but rather breathe freely throughout your practice, Lambersky advises. Here are some simple suggestions that will teach you how to Kegel.
1. You can learn how to Kegel while going to the washroom. By stopping the flow of urine midstream you will be locating the right muscles. But, don’t make a habit of this practice because doing Kegel exercises with a full bladder or while urinating can actually weaken the muscles over time.
2. Sit down on a chair or on the floor and speak out loud the deep belly sound “LUH.” This sound will you contract the right muscles down below.
3. Using a visualization technique, sit with your eyes closed and picture an inward upward movement while you contract-release-contract-release.
Once you’ve learned to Kegel, perfect your technique while sitting or lying down. Contract your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Your goal will be to contract for 10 seconds then relax for 10. If you can, aim for three sets of 10 contractions per day.