How To Do Kegel Exercises and Why They Are Important

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How To Do Kegel Exercises and Why They Are Important

The following is a student blog post by Jenn Mandura
After two-and-a-half years of trying to get pregnant with my first baby, I was all aglow and basking in the wonderfulness of pregnancy. We were visiting my in-laws, and I was expecting lots of adoration over my baby bump. Imagine my surprise when my father-in-law asked me “Have you been doing your kegels?” I. Was. Shocked. I could not imagine such a personal question coming from my father-in-law. However I soon realized it was an important question. it might be personal, but kegels are an important part of women’s reproductive health.
Kegel exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor. Not only do kegel exercises help you have an easier birth, but they also help you recover from vaginal birth more quickly.  A quick Google search tells you that kegel exercises help your bladder control as well as decreasing your chances of having hemorrhoids. Kegel exercises can have a positive effect on our sexual life as well. Sounds like great benefits to me.
You might be thinking,” But it seems so embarrassing!” Thankfully, no one has to know that you are doing your kegel exercises. These exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, and no one will even know. You can do them while driving, sitting at work, or at home watching television. I may even be doing them while writing this blog post.
If kegel exercises are so easy and so important, then why don’t we do them? Well, if you’re like me, you may not know that it’s so important. Maybe you’ve never heard of kegel exercises. Or if you have, maybe you don’t realize all the benefits. Even after I learned about kegel exercises, I would still forget to do them. If you’re like me, you may want to build them build a time into your day specifically to do them. Most suggestions are to do Kegel exercises three times a day. So maybe you do one set at breakfast, one set on your way home from work, and one set at night when you’re watching television. If you have built in, specific times to do your kegel exercises, just like any exercise, you will be more likely to do them.
So how do I do kegel exercises?
First, you want to locate your pelvic floor muscles. To do this you can try stopping the flow of urine when you are going to the bathroom. Try not to do this too often as it can actually weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Alternatively, you can stick a finger in your vagina and try to squeeze the muscles surrounding the finger.
Once you’ve located these muscles you can practice squeezing them for about 5 to 10 seconds. You can do this between 10 and 20 times for each set. Personally, I like to contract my pelvic floor muscles when I’m inhaling and then relax on my exhale. I do this for about 10 repetitions. You want to breathe normally while you’re doing your kegel exercises, but I just like to pay attention to my breath as I am practice contracting my kegel muscles. You want to do these repetitions about 3 times a day, and try not to contract any other muscle group like your butt, legs, or abdomen. Try to really focus on just your pelvic floor muscles.
You may also want to try to contract the rear pelvic muscles as well. these are the muscles that contract when you contract your anal sphincter. I like to try to rotate in between the front pelvic muscles in the back pelvic muscles to differentiate between the two. One of my favorite yoga videos does a great job of showing you how to exercise those muscles.
There are special balls and equipment you can buy to do your kegel exercises, but they are definitely not needed.  In fact there is controversial thoughts on if even using something like that can weaken your pelvic floor instead of strengthen it.  As with any exercise program, if you have concerns, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is right for you.
So now you know how and why to do your Kegel muscle exercises. Not only will your kegel exercises help your birth and your postpartum recovery, but they will help strengthen your pelvic floor.  Your body will thank you.
Jenn Mandura is a Birth and Postpartum Doula in Central and Northeast Indiana.  She strives to educate and empower her clients to have the birth and postpartum experience that they desire.   She enjoys yoga, donuts, and hiking with her husband and four kiddos.  You can find out more about the services Jenn offers here.  She would love to connect with you on facebook here.  Or feel free to contact her.
All student article posts are the expressions of the student who wrote them. We do not take responsibility for the content, these are done as part of the educational experience and we try to encourage students to use their voice and learn to connect with clients through blogging and social media.
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