Pelvic Floor (Kegel) Muscle Exercises

During pregnancy, after childbirth, and as women get older the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the urinary bladder, uterus, and bowel relax. This relaxation can contribute to urinary incontinence. Fortunately, Kegel exercises can help strengthen these muscles, prevent future problems, and improve sexual pleasure.

The pubococcygeus, the muscle that controls the pelvic floor, is activated when urination is interrupted. As you urinate, decrease or stop the flow, and hold it for a short time without tightening your abdominal muscles. After your bladder is empty, contract the muscle for five to 10 seconds, and then relax it for five to 10 seconds.

You should practice this exercise regularly. Try doing Kegels five times every time you urinate. If you are incontinent when laughing, sneezing, or exercising, make sure to contract and hold your pelvic floor muscles. When you have the urge to urinate, do not run to the bathroom; this only increases the pressure. Instead, take deep breaths while contracting the pelvic floor muscles, and walk at a normal pace to the bathroom.

If you regularly urinate in small amounts, you may be able to prevent leakage. Begin by urinating every one to two hours, whether you feel like it or not. Then, increase the interval between voiding by 15 minutes every week until the desired interval is reached.

These exercises should become a habit and need to be practiced regularly for the rest of your life.

Pregnant couple walking outside

General Exercises

If you have no contraindications, we recommend you continue to stay active. Walking and swimming are excellent exercises while pregnant. Avoid high-impact or jarring-type activities. Talk to your provider about what activities are best for you.