Pelvic floor exercises that give results
Pregnancy and birth (vaginal or Caesarean) create a real strain on the pelvic floor - here is a simple guide for pelvic floor exercises that are guaranteed to give results.
4 min read
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
Every fourth woman suffers from incontinence at some point in her life, which makes this a woman's health problem. All women are recommended to start pelvic floor exercises as early as possible. If you're lazy with your pelvic floor exercises, there's a risk of long-term problems with incontinence, so get yourself a routine for daily pelvic floor exercises, preferably even before birth.
When you're pregnant, the vagina stretches more, and your pelvic floor is loaded with increased weight and weakened. Birth is a big load. Pelvic floor muscles strengthen the muscles that hold your pelvic floor up. These consist of both slow and fast muscle fibres so you should train both strength and endurance. With the right pelvic floor exercises, you can quickly train your pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor exercises = pelvic floor training
Pelvic floor exercises train your pelvic floor. The muscle group that forms the pelvic floor extends from the pubic bone to the coccyx and the muscles are located around the urethra, rectum and vagina. The pelvic floor supports the organs in the abdomen and its main task is to control urine, gas and faeces. When you have given birth, the muscle is weakened by all the load and therefore needs to be trained to get in shape again. The body's muscle memory also means that you will have less trouble with leakage if you become pregnant again and have trained hard between pregnancies.
Pelvic floor training is like any other muscle training, it requires patience, motivation and perseverance. If you practise regularly, you can quickly improve strength, speed and endurance, which reduces or even eliminates the risk of continued incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises can also help your sex life.
Four exercises to get results
Exercise 1: Find the right muscles
It might be hard in the beginning but just keep going. In the beginning, you can lie on your back with bent legs to get into the technique:
- Squeeze around the rectum as if trying to hold in wind.
- Pinch forward around the vagina and urethra like a zip being pulled up. It should feel like something is lifting. Hold for 3 seconds.
- Release slowly.
Practise until you can do 10 squeezes in a row. You can also do it sitting down or standing. When you've found the right muscles you can move on to the strength squeeze.
Exercise 2: the strength squeeze
- Squeeze as much as you can and hold for 5 seconds.
- Release slowly.
Relax for 5 seconds and repeat the exercise until you've completed 10 consecutive rounds.
Exercise 3: Stamina
It's important to train the endurance of the pelvic floor so that you can hold it in when you exert yourself for a long time during exercise or physical work. The goal is to be able to squeeze continuously for 30-60 seconds, not too long after the birth.
- Squeeze and hold for 30 seconds.
Practise and increase successively until you can squeeze for two minutes in a row.
Exercise 4: functional training
The most important exercise: Functional training. You practise dealing with pressure from lifting, sneezing, laughing or coughing.
- Do a quick squeeze and hold for 30 seconds.
- Release and relax for the same amount of time.
- Repeat ten times in a row.
Try to get into the habit of always quickly squeezing when you're about to lift something or when you feel that you're about to sneeze, laugh or cough.
Don't give up
If you are unsure if you are squeezing in the right way, you can ask your midwife. If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, you will need to train for up to six months to reach your goal. If your pelvic floor weakens and you experience urine leakage or notice an increased feeling of heaviness, you should do the exercises more often. Contact a midwife or gynaecologist if this doesn't work.
Once you've found the muscles, you can do the exercises anywhere, for example in the queue in the supermarket, on the bus, or when you're doing the washing up. Don't give up - pelvic floor exercises always pay off!
Reviewed by Jenny Jansson
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