Women's Health

childbirth

Postpartum Kegel Exercises for Recovery After Giving Birth

Whether you delivered your baby vaginally, or underwent a cesarean section, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak from pregnancy.

Certainly this weakness can be exacerbated with vaginal delivery which can result in tearing of the muscles, and episiotomy.

However, you'd be surprised at how quickly you can start performing Kegel exercises postpartum.

The good news is that these muscles will heal just as any other muscles would, and they will respond to certain exercises with improved strength just as other muscles would.

The following exercise progression aims to isolate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles following child birth. It's a steady routine but by sticking to it, you'll be back to normal in no time. You can also learn more the Intimate Rose kegel exercise weight set and how progressive resistance can improve recovery time.

Postpartum Kegels Exercises to Do Immediately

1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Activation

Kegel exercises postpartum may be done within 24 hours of delivery in the hospital bed or at home in bed for those experiencing home birth. Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet shoulder width apart.

Imagine that you are shutting off the flow of urine and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, drawing them inward. Another helpful tip is to imagine that your urethra is a telescope and that you are pulling the telescope up and into your body. This is also referred to as a Kegel exercise.

Childbirth can result in significant stretching or tearing of the pelvic floor muscles, which can make it difficult to feel the muscles contracting (This is also a reason it's difficult to go right back to being intimate but this will also help with that!). A mirror can be a helpful tool to determine whether or not the pelvic floor muscles are squeezing and drawing inward as they should be.

Your gluteal muscles should not be contracting, and your pelvis should remain perfectly still, not rocking or tilting.

Initially, try to hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds. Rest for 5 seconds.

Repeat 10 times. Do this 3 times per day.

Progression: After 3-4 weeks post-partum, progress this towards a 10 second hold for each repetition.

 

2Abdominal Muscle Activation: SHHHHHHH

Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly planted hip distance apart as in the previous exercise. Place your hands over your lower belly.

Inhale through your nose and relax your body, then contract your pelvic floor muscles as if shutting off the flow of urine, then exhale through your mouth by saying SHHHHHHHH, making the sound of a tire losing air, thus gently compressing your abdominals downward.

Your hands should feel your abdominal muscles gently tensing and pulling downward gently.

Repeat 10 times. Do this 1 time per day.

8 Week Postpartum Exercise Map 

 1. Pelvic Brace Exercise:

This postpartum Kegel combines the pelvic floor and abdominal contraction exercises. Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet hip width apart.

Find a neutral pelvic and low back alignment by gently rocking your pelvis until you find a position that is pain free and allows a slight window of space between the low back and the floor.

Ideally the pelvis will be perfectly flat on top and parallel with the ceiling, although some people with well developed gluteal muscles will find that their pelvis slopes downward slightly which is fine.

Inhale through your nose, then exhale while simultaneously contracting your pelvic floor muscles and very gently contracting your abdominals downward as if you were zipping up a jacket that is one size too small.

This activation pattern forms a “pelvic brace. Hold 5 seconds. This bracing contraction should also be done when lifting your infant, or performing maneuvers such as placing the baby in the crib or car seat.

Repeat 10 times. Do this 2 times per day. 

 2. One Leg fallout:
Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet planted shoulder width apart. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and gently draw in the abdominals. Then, slowly bring one knee out to the side approximately 45 degrees, then slowly bring it back up to starting position maintaining the Kegel the entire time the leg is moving.

The primary intention of this exercise is to keep the pelvis and low back still, thus challenging the core muscles to stabilize the pelvis while the leg is moving.
Repeat 5 times on each side. Do this 2 times per day.
   
                               
3. Bridge:

Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet planted shoulder width apart. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and abdominals. Then lift your hips gently off the floor without rocking your pelvis.

Pause, then gently set your hips back down onto the floor, maintaining the Kegel throughout the entire movement. .

Repeat 10 times. Do this 2 times per day.

Kegel Bridge for Recovery from Birth

 Kegel Exercises After Birth 12 Weeks

Once the previous postpartum Kegel exercises become easier and your pelvic floor muscles have healed, you may progress basic Kegel exercises by adding an Intimate Rose Vaginal weight.

To find the proper weight to exercise with, begin by placing the white vaginal weight into the vagina as you would a tampon. Stand up and attempt to hold the weight inside the vagina for 1 minute.

If this can be easily achieved, attempt to walk around doing chores in your home with your clothing on as you normally would with the weight inserted for 20 minutes.

If this can be achieved quite easily, attempt to do this with the next heaviest weight on a subsequent day. If the weight falls out into your underwear, go back down to the previous weight that you were able to maintain for 20 minutes, and use that weight to perform the aforementioned Kegel exercises described in the pelvic brace exercise.

Once the exercises feel quite easy in the lying down position, you may attempt to progress to the next weight level, and perform regular household activities for 20 minutes. Do this 3-5 days per week.

 

16 Weeks Postpartum Exercises

Use the Kegel maneuvers with Intimate Rose Kegel weight set to perform more progressive strength exercises. Use a weight that can be easily worn for 20 minutes of mild activity.

Standing Kegel:With the weight in, stand up tall with good posture, feet standing hip width apart.

Inhale and relax. Then exhale, and simultaneously do a Kegel, holding the Kegel while exhaling for 5 seconds. Inhale and relax. Repeat 10 times.

 How to do a Standing Kegel exercise

 

 

Standing Heel Raise Kegel: Stand at your kitchen counter for support with vaginal weight in.

Inhale and relax. Exhale and simultaneously do a Kegel and slowly raise up onto the balls of your feet and then come back down with control.

Once your feet are flat on the floor again, inhale and relax the pelvic floor, then exhale and repeat. You should feel the Kegel throughout the entire process of raising up onto the toes and lowering back down. Repeat 10 times.

 How to do a Standing Heel Raise Kegel exercise

 

 

Mini Squat Kegel: Stand at your kitchen counter for balance and support with the vaginal weight in.

Inhale and relax. Exhale and simultaneously do a Kegel, then bend your knees to approximately 45 degrees while pressing your hips backward as if you were going to sit in a chair. Maintaining the Kegel, return to standing.

The Kegel and the gentle exhale should be maintained throughout the entire duration of movement. Once you return to standing, inhale and relax. Repeat 10 times

How to do a Mini Squat Kegel exercise

These are just a few of the postpartum Kegels that can be done after giving birth to help with recovery and some of the side effects a women may experience. Remember, it's important to listen to your body and don't overdo it. That's why we suggested certain Kegels at the 12 week and 16 week marks.

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By Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC