Did your midwife give you kegal exercises after birth?

The pelvic floor Kegel exercises diagramAfter giving birth to my son in October, I was not surprised to be told by my Midwife to start doing the old pelvic floor squeezing to tighten up my lady bits! I was however shocked by the vagueness of this statement.

As a trained pre/postnatal fitness expert, who enjoys keeping her education on this subject matter up to date, these squeeze and lift exercises in recent years have most definitely changed.

Obviously strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is really, really important. Also keeping these muscles in check during pregnancy is vital too.

 As a Pilates instructor of 10 years, I thought my pelvic floor was in good nick. Post birth, I’m not going to lie, I do suffer a bit from stress incontinence. Stress incontinence (when you laugh, cough, squeeze or do exercise or my case bursting for the loo and don’t quite make it and a bit of wee or for some poo comes out), this is very common post birth with 30% of new mums suffering from this for up to 3 months after birth.  This percentage is probably much higher, more like 50-60% because like me, it is a bit embarrassing to talk about it.
So how does the pelvic floor become weakened and what causes the dysfunction within it? In recent years, specialists have done further research and testing. Fast forward five months as a new Mum, I have embarked on a journey to become an alignment nerd and educate myself more about the pelvic floor.
Things to know:
STRESS INCONTINENCE HAPPENS OFTEN WHEN MOVING
What I did used to preach in my pregnancy Pilates classes was that functional movements like squats, when aligned properly help to train the pelvic floor muscles.
Have you noticed if you run up and down the stairs/after your toddler/ do exercises/ or heaven forbid bounce on a trampoline you leak?
LET’S LOOK AT A FULL BODY APPROACH WITH MOVEMENT
It’s interesting huh! That the research that has been done links stress incontinence to movement, hence why the education in this area is now looking at a more full body approach when it comes to exercising the pelvic floor. Rather than just on the spot tightening.
Functional movement during exercise means the pelvic floor works without you having to think of lifting and squeezing those lady bits, (which I always found a lot of work was going on with the eye brows and maybe not much going on with the lady bits!) It’s been proven that the pelvic floor switches on instinctively with these types of exercises, which is amazing!
IT’S ALL IN THE BOOTAAAAY!
 
Kelly, can you handle this?
Michelle, can you handle this?
Beyoncé, can you handle this?
I don’t think they can handle this!
 
Whoops, I have digressed off on a tangent with the first verse of Bootylicious.
Although, I may not have gone off on one too much as there is strong evidence that if you have strong glutes (butt muscles), you will also have a supported back, which in turn will mean you have a strong core and a strong core means a strong pelvic floor.
Think squats, when done in the correct alignment not only strengthen you bootay, they also strengthen your pelvic floor.
Sadly due to sedentary jobs, a lot of us sit on our butts and on our tailbones. Which means the bottom muscles are weak and the pelvic floor is tight in a bad way because the tail bone is sitting closer to the pubic bone.
In order to train the pelvic floor and get it functioning better, it’s good to think about lifting that bootay, get your tailbone moving away from that pubic bone.
200 KEGELS A DAY!
Don’t even go there!
All this is going to do is over tighten an already tight pelvic floor. Yep, all the sitting, maybe stress from childbirth, a prolapse or any pelvic dysfunction for that matter is not going to be resolved by the old school of thinking, ‘squeeze and release’ or ‘draw up and hold’ Kegel exercises.
The same goes for exercising in pregnancy. This style of spot reducing is not going to solve pelvic dysfunction.
It is the bum muscles that need the workout, which will allow the pelvic floor muscles to get a good stretch and lengthening.
Go ahead, put that Bootylicious track on and start shaking that bootay.
Please don’t suffer in silence, get in touch if there is anything in this blog post you would like to discuss.
The new Mum and Baby Pilates/ Barre class on Wednesdays at 11am will focus on alignment and a full body approach to help get real about the pelvic floor.
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