The months post-delivery can be an overwhelming journey for women. Pushing your baby out of your pelvis can take a toll on your overall health. You may suffer from many postpartum conditions which could last till a year after birth. Thus, it is important to listen to your body and pay attention to its needs. Kegel exercises after delivery are a safe way of taking care of your body postpartum.
What Are Kegels?
Kegel exercises are named after the gynaecologist Arnold Kegel, who developed a set of exercises that were meant for relaxing pelvic muscles and resolving post-delivery issues. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor that consists of the uterus, bladder and bowels, loosens up to accommodate to childbirth.
It takes time for the pelvic floor to restore to the prebirth functions. Kegel exercises consist of pelvic exercises that help in healing the pelvic floor faster. They are tighten and release exercises that aim at contracting the pelvic floor and strengthening your muscles.
9 Benefits of Kegel Exercise After Delivery
There are many benefits of doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy and after childbirth. Women who want to get back in shape after birth may find Kegel exercises beneficial for their workout regimen. There are many Kegel exercises for new moms and mothers with multiple pregnancies that can be performed in the house. If you are looking for a postpartum recovery routine, here are 9 benefits of Kegel exercise after delivery.
1. Kegels prevent urine leaks
Women suffer from a condition called urine incontinence after childbirth. Urine incontinence leads to involuntary urine leakage when you laugh, sneeze, exercise and even cough. This happens because the pelvic floor loosens up due to childbirth and is unable to contract when you get the urge to urinate.
A study suggests, “Kegel exercises have been proven to relieve the symptoms of urine incontinence. Kegel exercises are considered the first-line therapy for patients with UI as there are few reported side effects.” Kegel exercises help to tighten your pelvic floor, which in turn prevents you from having embarrassing episodes of urine leakage
2. Kegel exercises help in faster postpartum recovery
During childbirth, many women suffer from perineal or vaginal tears which take time to heal. These damaged tissues need to be repaired so that your body doesn’t suffer from any infection or ailment in future. According to a journal, “Women who perform Kegel exercises have faster wound healing than those who don’t. Kegel exercises also ease the perineal pain due to surgery.”
Kegel exercises help in increasing your body’s blood circulation which in turn speeds up your postpartum recovery. It will also help in preparing your body for more intense exercises.
3. They increase intimacy
The transition from pregnancy to delivery often makes women feel hesitant before having sex again. Their hormones cause more mood swings and even postpartum depression which could impact their intimacy with their partner.
According to Juraj Letko, MD, co-director of the Center for Pelvic Health at the University of Chicago Medicine, “Kegel exercises improve blood circulation to the vagina and pelvic floor. This helps in lubrication and arousal”. Kegel exercises help in tightening the walls of your vagina by toning its muscles. A toned vagina helps in increasing more intimacy by boosting sensations and orgasms.
4. Achieve a flatter belly with Kegels
One of the common concerns that women have after pregnancy is their bulging abdomen. This bulging abdomen is a cause of loose organs in the pelvic floor which pushes your pelvis forwards. The condition of a protruding belly after childbirth is known as Diastasis Recti. There is a study that states that up to 53% women go through Diastasis Recti after childbirth.
Kegel exercises will tighten your pelvic floor by restoring your organs to where they were before. You will find a noticeable difference in your stomach within a few weeks of exercising.
5. Prevents pelvic prolapse
A pelvic prolapse is a condition where some organs of your pelvic floor drag down towards your vaginal area, causing great amount of discomfort. According to a study, pelvic prolapse can follow pregnancy and childbirth. Risks related to a pelvic prolapse also include congenital or connective tissue abnormalities and denervation.
A pelvic prolapse can cause lower back pain, constipation, discomfort while walking, etc. Your doctor may ask you to undergo surgery to get it treated. Kegel exercises help in tightening your pelvic muscles which prevents your organs from dropping down into the vagina.
6. Kegel exercises help to control vaginal bleeding
After birth, a bloody vaginal discharge containing blood, mucus and tissues is common. This bloody discharge usually continues from four to six weeks postpartum. However, with an increase in your physical activity, your bleeding can increase.
Moreover, if you have undergone any surgery such as an episiotomy during childbirth, your stitches may rip due to excessive walking or exercise. Kegels after birth with stitches help in healing your pregnancy wounds. They heal your pelvic area which prevents excessive bleeding postpartum.
7. It takes care of your overall fitness
Pregnancy can affect your body in many ways. Your physical fitness can go for a toll. One of the most common occurrences of pregnancy is a protruding belly. This can lead to more fatigue and back pain because of the pressure on your abdomen and pelvic muscles. Pregnancy also weakens your core due to the loosening of the organs.
A journal suggests that ,“many researchers have emphasized on the importance of doing exercises postpartum. Kegel exercises are the best ones that can be done after delivery.” Pelvic floor exercises help in strengthening your core. It also reduces the risk of injuries and infections by making your body less vulnerable.
8. Provides better back and hip support
Your pelvic core consists of a set of organs that support your trunk and hips. When your pelvic floor weakens, it directly impacts your back, lower spine, tailbone, etc. Kegel exercises are aimed at providing better support to your pelvic floor which helps in strengthening and coordinating your muscles. This helps in providing better posture support and hip support which is crucial for completing day to day chores.
9. Helps loose muscles
Loosened muscles and ligaments are another concern that women have. During pregnancy, your muscles and ligaments loosen up to help your body accommodate for your baby’s body. Repetitive activities while taking care of our child and increased physical activities, can increase your likeliness of getting injuries.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus, small intestine, etc.” Postpartum core and pelvic floor exercise help in tightening your muscles and preventing muscle tears and joint pains.
When to Start Kegel Exercise After Delivery?
Kegel exercises are a part of your postpartum recovery. There always lies the question- how soon after childbirth can you do Kegels? Based on your overall health, many doctors suggest you to start Kegel exercises as early as the first week after delivery. However, if you have undergone any surgery due to childbirth, you may have to wait longer for your stitches to heal. The ideal time to start Kegel exercises is post six weeks of childbirth.
What Is The Right Technique to Do Kegels?
When performing Kegel exercises, it is important that you know the right techniques. Your body is vulnerable at this point. Any wrong form of exercise can put pressure on your pelvic floor. When performing Kegel exercises, make sure that you empty your bladder completely. A half empty bladder can lead to infectious diseases such as urinary tract infections. Here are some techniques on how to do Kegel exercises:
- Always sit with a straight back.
- Focus solely on tightening your pelvic muscles. Do not try other physical exercises that require the movement of legs or muscles.
- Hold and release your contractions for 8-10 times. Repeat around 4-5 times a day.
- Make sure that you breathe in and breathe out while performing these exercises.
- Don’t try pelvic exercises while emptying your bladder. It could cause a half empty bladder which you increase your risk of infections.
During Kegel exercises, mothers must ensure that they are not sneezing or coughing as it could lead to urine leakage. Some women might take longer to heal post-delivery. Their body may not be prepared for taking on exercises again. Though Kegel exercises are safe, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before performing Kegel exercise after delivery. If you face any complications or uneasiness after performing Kegel exercises, talk to your doctor to find out the underlying reasons.