Pelvic exercises are important during pregnancy to promote support, strength and control of the pelvic floor and to help with relaxation when needed for childbirth. During pregnancy, there is a weakening of the pelvic floor for several reasons including hormonal changes, weight gain during pregnancy, straining with possible constipation, and inappropriate pregnancy and post-partum exercises. Therefore, it is important to perform pelvic floor exercises properly.
There are many types of pelvic floor exercises, but two primary exercises can be performed in most positions such as lying on your side, hand and knees position, sitting on a chair or exercise ball or standing.
Try to breathe normally and avoid holding your breath during the exercises.
Maintain good posture during exercises.
With exercises, visualize the pelvic floor which runs like a hammock from the pelvic bone to tailbone.
1) Endurance contraction of pelvic floor – trains the muscles of the pelvic floor to give support for your growing baby:
a. Activate the pelvic floor muscles by lifting up and squeezing in holding for 10 seconds
b. Fully relax the pelvic floor muscles back to resting position for at least 10 seconds
c. Repeat this exercise 20-30 times in total spread out during the day
2) Quick contraction of the pelvic floor – helps to support and protect pelvic floor and reduce/avoid unwanted bladder leakage with coughing or sneezing:
a. Contract pelvic floor briskly and strongly for 2 seconds
b. Release pelvic floor and relax to rest position
c. Repeat up to 10 short strong squeezes in a row at least 1 time every day
It is best to start these exercises early in your pregnancy and continue them after giving birth. Also remember to relax and rest your pelvic floor at times throughout the day.
Kenway, M. Pelvic Exercises for Pregnancy-Daily Exercise Guidelines.
Written by: Dr. Debbie Clarke, PT, MPT, CIDN