Pelvic floor exercises are a way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles that are essential for women throughout our lifetime. Considering that at least 50 percent of women experience pelvic floor difficulties at some point in their lifetime and 1 in 10 ends up undergoing surgery for this issue, it seems like more women would be talking the topic of pelvic floor exercises.
The fact is that the pelvic region is a rather private area of the body and one that we generally don’t bring up at the brunch table with our besties. And while this is understandable, the fact is that pelvic floor exercises are essential for women’s health–particularly when they’re expecting.
“More prescribed pregnancy exercises?” you might be thinking at this point, rolling your eyes in the general direction of the sky above you. After all, when you’re already doing more than enough exercises to tone your tummy and strengthen your body in anticipation of The Big Event, why should you even pause to think about pelvic floor exercises? Well believe it or not, the subject of “pelvic floor exercises” is a vital one for many pregnant women, as the pelvic floor muscles play a basic and highly essential role in the process of pregnancy and childbirth–and, for that matter, of life in general.
The pelvic floor is considered the base or core of the body. This owing to the fact that the pelvic floor is the literal muscular sling that carries and supports the torso. The pelvic muscles also comprise that integral muscular network that supports the bowel, the bladder, and the uterus. The pelvic floor, meanwhile, is that muscular layer that stretches like a supportive foundation from the pubic bone to the tip of the backbone.
When these muscles contract, these specific organs are lifted and the vaginal, anal and urethral openings tighten. When muscles relax, the body can release urine and feces and perform other biological functions–up to and including pregnancy.
It’s only understandable that the pelvic muscles and the pelvic floor would play a pivotal role in the development and delivery of a baby. During those nine months of expectancy, the pelvic floor muscles serve to support the growing fetus. And during the delivery process, these very same muscles help to facilitate the birth of your baby–just as it does other biological processes. It is for this very reason that pelvic floor exercises are important for everyone; and why pelvic floor exercises for women are particularly needed, especially during the course of one’s reproductive years.
Without the benefit of exercise and a healthy lifestyle, pelvic muscles can weaken; sometimes as a result of childbirth, also possibly as a side effect of age, heavy lifting, obesity, and certain health conditions. Amazingly, even excessive coughing can weaken these tender muscles!
Pelvic Floor Muscles: The Core of the CORE
The weakening of pelvic floor muscles can lead to any number of adverse health effects, not the least of which are incontinence, painful intercourse, other serious physical discomforts such as SI joint pain and pain in the lower back and hips, and problematic pregnancies in the future. Even under the best of circumstances and with the fittest of moms, the experience of pregnancy is bound to stress and strain the pelvic floor.
Ah, but it doesn’t have to be this way. When you undertake a reasonable and regular regimen of pelvic floor exercises at any time during your life, then your pelvic floor muscles and your body as a whole will strengthen and revitalize. And when you perform frequent and reasonably paced pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, you are bound to have an easier and empowered pregnancy and delivery process.
Pelvic floor exercises will strengthen the muscles surrounding your bladder and vagina. You will be less likely to experience stress incontinence and leakage during your pregnancy, and will likely even experience a smoother delivery.
Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women
Pelvic floor exercises for women can be even more beneficial to expectant mothers dealing with the all too prevalent issue of pelvic floor prolapse. This is what occurs when the pelvic muscles weaken, causing corresponding organs to drop lower into the pelvis, thus creating a noticeable bulge and related symptoms such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
Pelvic Floor Exercises After Birth
And as much as pelvic floor exercises support and advance the cause of prenatal health, pelvic floor exercises after birth are equally essential. Exercise helps you to bounce back faster after birth as well, helping you get back in shape at a faster rate and–in the case of pelvic floor exercises–help you avoid frequent incontinence post delivery and have an easier go of it during future pregnancies.
In general, people of all genders and life situations–whether they plan to have children or not–should make a practice of performing a steady regimen of pelvic floor exercises. Exercise keeps you healthy and strong, and–for just about anyone–enhanced pelvic floor muscles can mean a greater ease of biological functions (easier and more secure peeing, for instance–yes!), a better love life, and a firmer, more supportive cradle of support for your core.
Pelvic Floor Exercises Step By Step
So, have we convinced you yet that you really, really need to be doing pelvic floor exercises, especially with a little one on the way? Well then sit back and do allow us to instruct you on how to do pelvic floor exercises step by step. Or better yet, get up and actually do the exercises we suggest, for the good of you and your little one!
Now before you begin any exercise routine or regimen, be sure to consult your physician regarding the specific exercises that you plan to do, and in what quantity and frequency/time increments. Let your doctor be your workout partner; as he/she is the person who knows your body best, and allows them to pick and choose the exercises best for you. Beyond this basic directive, we hope that you also will consider this carefully selected regimen of pelvic floor exercises:
Breathe with your pelvic floor. While doing pelvic floor exercises, coordinate your diaphragm and pelvic floor–with your ribs moving with each breath, inhaling deep breaths and exhaling and expelling them outward. An expanding diaphragm will apply pressure to the pelvic floor, strengthening that floor in the process.
Feel free to incorporate light weights, foam rollers and exercise balloons into your workout–with the full permission and approval of your physician and personal trainer, of course.
Get to the core of the matter. As mentioned previously, the pelvic floor is for all intents and purposes the central core of the anatomy. So be certain that the exercises you choose flex, shape and tone key core areas such as hips and abs, as well as–naturally–the muscles of the pelvic area.
Be sure to step tall and proud into this new and invigorating pelvic floor exercises regimen–most literally. Keep your posture straight and your head aligned at all times, both when exercising and when walking and moving in general.
Cool up, down and all around. As you would with any exercise routine, warm up and cool down before and after your newly adopted routine of pelvic floor exercises. Feel free to stop and rest if you feel weary or stressed, and cease all movement immediately if you feel pain.
Now let’s get down to the basics of pelvic floor exercises, done the right way and with expectant moms in mind:
Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy: The Kegels
These are the best pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy! Kegel exercise is the most basic and classically practiced exercise maneuver in the pelvic floor exercises regimen. And it does not involve a single weight or a solitary complex twist, turn or stretch. The Kegel exercise, in point of fact, is the one of those few exercises you can perform sitting down, perfect for strength training while pregnant….
The goal and objective of the kegel exercise involves the contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, toward the strengthening and repair of these same muscles.
The muscles that you will be working here are the same ones that you use most prominently when you go to the restroom. Start off by identifying these muscles, and ensuring that your bladder is empty before you commence the exercises.
Contract your pelvic muscles.
Hold these muscles for about five seconds.
Release these same muscles for an interval of five seconds.
Repeat this exercise as needed, up to 10 times consecutively and three times per day.
What exercise regimen, I ask you, does not involve that magical maneuver known as the squat? This single exercise works all of the body’s major muscles; strengthening and empowering them in the process. And since the movement involves–well–squatting to the comfortable extreme (well, duh!), then it is particularly useful in working one’s pelvic muscles. These pelvic floor exercises, in other words, stand to benefit far more beyond the target muscles for this particular regimen. Here’s how ya do ‘em!
Squats with Rotation:
Part you’re feet to equate shoulder width, then rotating your legs outward from the hip.
Keep your head upward as you squat down. Focus your motion on your hips and behind without exerting the back.
Stand up and rotate toward a single side. Rotate your back leg and pivot up on your toes, all the while extending your arms upward and away from you.
Stand tall, lifting from your core.
Rotate in the direction of the center, repeating the exercise on alternating sides.
Do 10-20 repetitions or as many as you can that feel comfortable.
Hips Rolls make for an excellent lower body workout; here’s how we roll!
Roll your spine upward, a single vertebra at a time, as you articulate your spine.
Pause and inhale deeply once reaching the top.
Breathe out nice and easy, again articulating the good ol’ spine as you return roll down the length of the mat.
When your back is to the mat, breathe in and arch your back.
Breathe out once again before commencing with your next roll, which you should do in five to 10 repetitions.
Pelvic Floor Exercises for Prolapse: Pelvic Tilts
No regimen of pelvic floor exercises would be complete without the tilt!
Lay on your back as you arch its lower part, bending your knees with your feet hip-width apart.
Breathe deeply and inwardly out to the sides and the back of your rib cage, relaxing your pelvis and pelvic floor in the process.
Exhale, perform a Kegel exercise, then zip your stomach upward through the tip of your head, permitting your pelvis to slightly tilt.
Inhale and return to the starting point, arching your back and relaxing your pelvis and pelvic floor.
Get in on the ground floor of pregnancy fitness; do some pelvic floor exercises today!
runny noses, sore throats and the dreaded flu bug!
Fear not, mamas!! As a mom to a one-year-old baby boy, I have discovered a few healthy immune boosting methods that will help get you through the cold season.
WASH YOUR HANDS
Everyone in your family should wash their hands with real soap (organic is fine, just make sure it’s soap – not sanitizer). Be sure to wash your hands before you eat and periodically during the day after using public door handles, shopping carts, etc. As soon as you get home, I recommend washing them again! Don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails!!
USE FOOD AS PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE
Eat the rainbow while limiting processed foods, packaged foods and dairy. I also recommend drinking only nutritious liquids to stay extra hydrated. I recently watched a great Master Class by Holistic Pediatrician Elisa Song, MD and she reinforced the idea that you can prevent and help your little ones heal with good food and drink! This does not mean only oranges, but rather the entire rainbow of fruits and veggies. We love leafy greens sautéed in Bone Broth at our house for an easy meal that packs a punch! For liquids, water is always the best go-to and remember to stay away from juices! Also, Mama I know it’s hard with Grandma sneaking the kids candy, but try your best to limit their exposure to sugar as it can cause inflammation and really weaken their immune systems.
KEEP EYES, NOSES + EARS CLEAN… BUT NOT TOO CLEAN
Confused? I was too! But my pediatrician broke it down for me. You want to really make sure you don’t strip the nose or ear areas with tool-like nasal aspirators or q-tips. Once you introduce these things, you are causing the body to react and may end up with more snot or inflammation that will prolong the illness. Try to clear the passages once a day using saline spray to loosen the snot and ONLY a wet washrag to wipe the ears.
STEAM, STEAM, STEAM WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
I learned this one during my son’s first cold and it was a lifesaver! Close the doors, turn the shower on full blast to the highest heat setting and add a couple drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil into the shower floor. This will create a full-on steam room effect (watch the eucalyptus with babies as it can affect their breathing). DO NOT let the kids into the shower but sit with them in the bathroom and read or play while the steam builds up. This can help to clear up mucus in their chest and nose and relieve symptoms if they are already sick. We did this while my son played in the bathroom and it really set him up for a good night’s rest when he wasn’t feeling great.
I’m always looking for more creative, holistic and reliable ways to create a healthy environment for my family! If you have any tips or tricks, please send them my way Mama!
The New Year is here; can you believe it?? Not only is it time to celebrate the end of one year and the start of the next 365 days around the sun, but it is also time for the new year’s resolutions to start rolling out.
We love our various programs, because there truly is a class for every mama in any stage of motherhood. In January, many of our locations nationwide kick off Body Back Transformation, an 8-week result based journey. Learn more about Body Back here.
At FIT4MOM, we may be all about that mom life, but we sure love the amazing dads and partners that support the women that make our community so special, especially when it comes to support so moms can give TLC and time to themselves!
This week, for Transformation Tuesday, Charlie, husband of FIT4MOM Louisville‘s recent Run Club and Body Back grad, Ashley Gonzalez, wrote a letter to celebrate Ashley’s Body Back transformation…
“Ashley joined our Run Club program in August after she found out a friend of hers had signed up. Little did she know at the time, but that decision made somewhat on a whim would have a profound impact on how the months to follow would unfold. One of her fellow Run Club mamas had just finished Body Back with results that wowed our entire Village! That was the push Ashley needed to make a change and she enrolled in the next session of Body Back right away. Fast forward a few months – lots of hard work, meal prepping, and dozens of workouts and miles later, Ashley has her own set of amazing before and after photos to share. In just 8 weeks, she lost nearly 30 pounds! We couldn’t be prouder of all she accomplished. Hard work pays off!” – FIT4MOM Louisville
Ashley’s hubs, Charlie, gave us even more insight into her incredible journey. Body Back is not something that’s easy for mamas to do alone. Having support from your spouse and family is invaluable to a BB mama. Charlie was one of those partners that we all dream of having during Body Back – all in from the start! Here’s what he had to say: