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November 29, 2022

Exercising Your Pelvic Floor During Pregnancy The Right Way

Learn why kegels may not be right for you & how to identify your pelvic floor needs. Plus, we spill our methods here at Prenatal Yoga Center in NYC.

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We have all heard about the importance of the pelvic floor muscles when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, but what actually are the pelvic floor muscles, and how do we keep them healthy? 

Pelvic floor muscles support all the organs located in the pelvic area, including the uterus, bladder, and bowel. They contract and release at various points throughout the day as we pass urine, have bowel movements, or even cough!

So what is the link between pregnancy, labor, and our pelvic floor muscles? Well, when we become pregnant, these muscles come under more strain than usual, meaning that it is more important than ever to keep them functioning properly—especially if you are planning to have a vaginal birth, as these muscles need to be able to lengthen to deliver your baby. 

So let’s take a moment to better understand the correct way to strengthen the pelvic floor, when to NOT work on toning, and how to keep it healthy!

Why it is important to have a healthy pelvic floor

Having a healthy and balanced pelvic floor can help with incontinence, back pain, pelvic pain, and can make sex more comfortable and allow for a more efficient and easier birth.

What’s more, having a healthy pelvic floor before you give birth can help you recover from labor and pregnancy more easily as well as minimize any damage done to these muscles. It is also important if you wish to return to doing sports or recreational activities after you have your baby.

Click to learn more about the pelvic floor in this reel below!

Watch reel here!

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Why kegel exercises aren’t always good for your pelvic floor

So often when we think about strengthening our pelvic floor, we immediately think that kegel exercises are the answer. However, kegel exercises aren’t actually always good for the pelvic floor and can create problems if a person has a tight pelvic floor.

Many times people become pregnant and are told, “time to kegel!”. But that may not always be the answer. In fact, many pregnant folks have tight pelvic floors, and constant kegels can just add to that tension.

It is important to note that kegel exercises do have their place and are sometimes used. But it entirely depends on the needs of the individual, which is something that will be explained later.

Here at PYC, we focus on yoga, breathing, and posture to help create balance in the pelvic floor. Our goal is to develop a healthy pelvic floor, and a pelvic floor that is not too tight or too loose. Essentially, the aim is to have the ‘Goldilocks’ of pelvic floors!

Click below to watch a reel about pelvic floor exercises.

Watch reel here!

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What your pelvic floor needs are and how to identify them

You are probably wondering right now how exactly you can achieve this. You may ask yourself, “how do I get the ‘Goldilocks’ of pelvic floors?”

Firstly, you need to identify what your pelvic floor needs are and what state it is in. Is it too tight or too loose? 

In every prenatal yoga class, we do pelvic floor balancing work. We start with diaphragmatic breathing, which is a great way to release tension in the pelvic floor. Then we go through a list of indicators of pelvic floor tension.

These include:

  • Pain with vaginal penetration
  • Discomfort around the sit bones
  • Tailbone pain
  • Constipation
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • “Floppy joints” (a very flexible body)
  • If doing Kegels has worsened incontinence or pain
  • I also add those at 36 weeks of pregnancy and above, since the focus is on a more relaxed pelvic floor at this time

The Prenatal Yoga Center’s Methods for developing a healthy pelvic floor

So what are the methods that we use at the Prenatal Yoga Center to help someone who is pregnant to develop a healthy pelvic floor? 

Well, if someone has a tight pelvic floor, we want to work on really good diaphragmatic breathing and posture. Then fold in poses that help lengthen the tightened muscles as well as strengthen the pelvic girdle muscles. The pelvic floor is often tight because the other surrounding muscles— the glutes and abductors—are weak, so the pelvic floor is picking up the slack of the other muscles that have checked out.

However, if someone does need tone and support, then Kegels are introduced to strengthen. 

Yoga poses are also incorporated that will both lengthen and strengthen the pelvic muscles.

The first thing that is examined is a student’s posture, which of course changes during pregnancy. If there is an anterior tilt, we at PYC work to bring the pelvis back into alignment. 

We also include poses that build strength in the glutes, like dynamic squats and bridge poses that focus on glute and hamstring strength.

Our approach at PYC is “creative” as we use a mixture of yoga poses as well as asanas for finding balance and support. 

Habits to be aware of

When we speak about developing a healthy pelvic floor, it is important that individuals also recognize where some of their habits might be hindering their progress. 

Habits that can negatively impact your pelvic floor include:

  • Crossing your legs
  • Holding your baby always on one side
  • Posture
  • Wearing heels

Book a class at the Prenatal Yoga Center

To discover how we can help you to strengthen or develop your pelvic floor muscles, click below to book an appointment!

FAQs

What causes a weak pelvic floor?

There are a number of reasons why a person might have a weak pelvic floor. Some of these include pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, constipation, heavy lifting, and chronic coughing.

What does a tight pelvic floor feel like?

A tight pelvic floor can feel like pain or pressure in your pelvic area and lower back. Pain may also be felt in your bladder area, and you may also experience discomfort during sex or when you have a bowel movement. 

How long does it take to strengthen your pelvic floor?

This depends on the person but it usually takes between 4-6 weeks to see some improvement, and for some it can take up to 3 months to see a real change.

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