Gaining an awareness of these muscles and strengthening them prenatally will help you during the pushing stage of delivery, and will also speed the postpartum healing and reconditioning period.
Aside from playing a crucial part in the birth process, the strength and tone of these muscles should be maintained to:
- Prevent eventual sagging of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel)
- Prevent "wetting your pants" when coughing, laughing, running, sneezing, etc.
- Improve the sensations of intercourse
The Kegel exercise
- The Kegel is the key exercise to tone these muscles. To locate them, sit on the toilet with your legs apart and try to stop the flow of urine in midstream. Or insert two fingers in to your vagina and attempt to squeeze them by tightening your vagina.
- Once you have identified the muscles, this exercise can be done in any position, although a good "learning position" is lying down with your knees bent and apart and your feet on the floor.
- Tighten these muscles for two to three seconds, then relax. Place your hand on your pubic bone and think about tightening your vagina up to that level. Do three to five times, rest, then repeat three to five more times.
- Do this exercise as often as possible throughout the day. Use "triggers" such as red lights, TV or radio commercials, diaper changes, etc., to remind you. Aim to do 100 or more each day.
- To check your progress, do this exercise during intercourse and ask your partner to tell you if your vaginal muscles are becoming stronger.
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