Kegel exercises strengthen and maintain pelvic muscles. A strong pelvic floor is important because it helps to hold your bladder, womb and bowels in place. Pelvic floor muscles give you control over bowel movements and the emptying of your bladder. A weak pelvic floor can lead to stress incontinence, which affects up to a third of all new mothers. Stress incontinence means that you could leak urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising.
A weakened or damaged pelvic floor leads to problems such as a prolapse, where the pelvic organs slip out of place and push up against the walls of the vagina. These problems usually occur later on, usually after menopause. The kegel exercises may help in avoiding these issues.
Begin doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible. Starting early will help your perineum and vagina to heal more quickly, by improving the circulation to the area. The increased circulation helps to reduce swelling and eliminate bruising.
Start exercising your pelvic floor muscles lying on your back or side. You may even find that it is easier to do the exercises in the bath as you may feel more relaxed.
Imagine that your pelvic floor is an elevator. Contract your muscles a just a little, enough to reach the first floor. Then contract them a little more to reach the floor, and so on until you've reached the fourth floor. Hold for as long as you can, at least few seconds, and then release one floor at a time. This method of exercise isolates the pelvic floor muscles, demanding controlled contraction and release.
How can you tell if you are exercising the right muscles? Do the ‘pee test’. If you can stop the flow of urine when the muscles are contracted, you have the right muscles. Don’t make it a habit of practising during urination. Find some time during the day, perhaps when you’re washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or doing other routine activities. Another fun way to tell if you’re isolating and strengthening the right muscles is to squeeze those muscles when your partner is inside you, then ask your partner if they noticed the difference.