Beyond Kegels: New Pelvic Exercises to Help with Birth and in Bed
Exercising the Pelvic Floor
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, currently expecting, or have a newborn at home, pelvic fitness is vital. You can tone your pelvic floor with these fitness tips:
Finding the Muscles: The key to doing pelvic-floor exercises properly is knowing how to isolate the pubbococcygeal muscles. “I ask women to try and stop their urine flow while they are seated on the toilet,” says Dehn. This allows women to identify the circular muscles that make up the pelvic floor around the vagina, urethra, and rectum and more readily isolate them during exercise.
The Kegel: Remember how it felt to stop the flow of urine? Congratulations, you just did a Kegel! Now, you can practice them anytime and anywhere—just be sure you’re doing them properly. “It’s important to mention that most people do Kegels incorrectly and use the bigger global muscles such as the glutes, hip flexors, and hamstring to do the work,” says Mallett. “A true Kegel should be no activation of any other muscles, just the feeling of pulling the pelvic floor up like an elevator.”
Start by holding the contraction for three seconds, eventually working your way up to ten seconds, says Dehn. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions to start, working your way up to five sets and then 10 sets.
The Squeeze and Hold: Once you’ve mastered Kegels, try variations of the exercise. Contract and hold the pelvic floor, but this time, try to bring the muscles up an inch further than before. Hold for a few seconds and slowly release.
The Elevator Kegel: “Imagine your pelvic floor is an elevator with three floors,” says Mallett. This elevator will stop at all three floors, pausing and holding at the first two floors for two seconds each and remaining at the third floor for 30 seconds. Then, the elevator will lower once again to the second and first floors, holding for two seconds and then completely relaxing. Don’t worry if you can’t hold the contraction at the “third floor” for 30 seconds at first—you can gradually build up to this level of difficulty.
Bedroom Practice: Intercourse is a great way to engage your pelvic-floor muscles. You can lift and contract these muscles during sex, helping you get fit and providing some extra pleasure to both you and your partner. Ask your hubby if he feels the pressure when you perform the exercise. It’s a foolproof way of developing pelvic-floor activation accuracy.
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