How to do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises
HEALTH: Many women find they leak urine especially after having a baby, and part of the reason could be weak pelvic floor muscles. Ideally, you should start these pelvic floor exercises while you are pregnant, if not before.
Doing pelvic floor exercises helps your muscles to stretch during labour and spring back into shape afterwards. Because they improve circulation around the perineum, they also help ease soreness after delivery (better circulation also helps improve sexual responsiveness), so keep on doing them, it’s well worth the effort.
How to do your pelvic floor exercises
The great thing about these exercises is that, though they are fairly boring, you can do them anywhere.
Try to do the exercises often throughout the day in short bursts rather than persevering for long periods where boredom may get the better of you! The exercises will also be more effective.
- Start to pass urine and then try to stop or slow your urine stream. Do this by pulling the muscles tight and upwards. It may help if you lean forwards on your elbows, especially if your pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are weak.
- Squeeze your back passage shut and draw your vagina inwards and upwards. Hold and count for five seconds, the squeeze should be strong and slow. Aim to increase to 10 seconds as you get stronger. Repeat five times and try to do this exercise as often as you can during the day.
- Pull your muscles up as hard as possible then relax. Do five fast squeezes after you have done the slow squeezes, above.
- If you know that coughing, laughing or any other activity may mean that you leak urine, try to squeeze hard and brace yourself before the pressure in your abdomen changes. Contract your PFM and hold until the exertion is over. Cross your legs before you cough or sneeze to help prevent leakage.
Your midwife can give you more information about strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Some physiotherapists also specialise in women’s health and obstetrics, so your GP may refer you to a specialist who can work out a range of exercises especially for you.
As with many aspects of caring for your health, prevention is better than cure – so if you can, practice your exercises before you have your baby as well as afterwards.