One of the two groups of muscles that bear the most
stress during pregnancy is the pelvic floor muscle.
Pregnancy and childbirth weaken the pelvic floor.
This is because having a baby puts enormous pressure
on these muscles since the muscles have to cope with
the weighty uterus and the vaginal stretching that
takes place during delivery. No doubt Kegel exercise
is most important after delivery to allow the muscles
to heal and get back to the pre-pregnancy state, getting
into the habit of doing pelvic floor exercises while
pregnant will ensure familiarity with the routine.
It is therefore beneficial to become accustomed
to this exercise during pregnancy i.e. contracting
and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles every day so
that you don’t have to spend time learning post delivery.
Once you have got a knack for it you can practice
it standing, or sitting for a few minutes several
times a day everyday.
What are Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvis protects the internal organs it contains
i.e. the bladder, uterus and lower bowel. Between
the legs lie several muscles which support these organs.
A strong pelvic floor lends support to the pregnant
uterus, helps push baby out during labor and eventually
aid these muscles into shape post birth. Conversely
a weak pelvic floor may give rise to stress incontinence
(leaking drops of urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze)
towards the end of a pregnancy and after childbirth.
When these muscles weaken, supporting the contents
of the pelvis is removed leading to embarrassing moments.
Apart from stress incontinence, a weakened pelvic
floor muscle can cause the more severe problem of
prolapsed uterus (uterus starts to sag down into the
How are Pelvic Exercises
• Pelvic floor exercises are also known as Kegel exercises
and they need to be performed at the earliest after
your baby is born, even following a Cesarean birth.
There is the classic form and some variations to that
form as well.
• The classic/basic form: Breathe normally and sit
or stand upright. Without moving your body, squeeze
and lift/pull the vagina then the urethra area, and
then the anal sphincter muscles upwards. You should
feel them lifting towards your belly button. All three
areas are to be considered as a single unit; hold
the contraction for a count of 5. Then slowly relax
the muscles and you should feel a ‘drop’ between your
legs, indicating you have successfully contracted
your pelvic floor muscles.
• You may also vary this exercise i.e. not hold the
contraction for a few seconds. Instead, you may contract
and release the muscles in a fast motion as if you
are switching on and shutting off a switch. Repeat
this at least 10 times.
• Another variation is the sitting form. Do the steps
as outlined in the basic form. Then place your elbows
on your knees and lean forward. Repeat the pelvic
floor exercise but this time you will feel the movement
concentrated around the urethra and vagina and less
around the anal region. By alternating between upright
and leaning versions, you are able to feel the sensation
in isolated areas of the pelvic floor.
Incorrect forms for pelvic
Following suggest that the exercise is being carried
• Contracting the abdominals
• Tensing the buttocks
• Gripping with the leg muscles
• Tensing shoulders
• Tensing your facial muscles, especially the brow
• Holding your breath as you work your pelvic floor
Remember, toned pelvic muscles are the best
cover you can hope for against future problems.
That should suffice in getting you started. During
pregnancy do a total of 25 contractions a day in sets
of 5 contractions each time, and don’t be too concerned
if you are not able to hold the contractions (2 seconds
is not too bad at this stage). You can do them while
you are waiting in a queue, stuck at the traffic lights,
waiting on the phone or when downloading websites.
Basically you don’t have to set time aside and therefore
feel stressed just thinking how you are going to fit
Kegel into your busy schedule.