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Effective Pelvic Floor Exercises to Get You Back in Shape After Pregnancy

The pelvic floor is the collection of muscles and ligaments which support the organs in the pelvic region (womb, vagina, bowels, and bladder). During pregnancy, these muscles tend to weaken due to the immense pressure placed on them, the stretching that takes place as the womb expands, and the exertion that they face during the process of childbirth. For nine whole months, these muscles face a chronic, increasing pressure and stretching, which is topped off with a huge effort they must exert at the end of those nine months. On account of the organs it supports, a weakened and stretched out pelvic floor may lead to problems such as incontinence or leaking of urine and/or faecal matter when you physically strain yourself or sneeze, cough, etc. In order to regain efficient functioning and control over the bladder and bowels, pelvic floor exercises become a great boon.

Pelvic floor exercises work to strengthen the pelvic floor which can help reduce or eliminate the problems of incontinence and bladder leakage. This strengthening will not occur automatically, which means it’s time for you to get to work. There are two kinds of fibres in the pelvic floor which are fast fibres and slow fibres; fast fibres are those which focus on strength, while slow fibres focus on stamina. Both types must be worked on, in order to regain effective functioning of the pelvic floor. There are two kinds of pelvic floor exercises that you can perform, in order to strengthen the pelvic floor - short squeezes and long squeezes.

Short Squeezes

- To perform this exercise, sit or lie down with your knees slightly apart.

- Try to squeeze your muscles like you would if you were trying to prevent yourself from passing gas.

- Then try to squeeze the muscles in front like you’re trying to prevent yourself from urinating.

- Hold this for not more than 2 seconds and then let go.

- Ensure that you don’t hold your breath while doing so

- Do not clench the buttocks or your stomach; try to make sure you’re only using/pulling the pelvic floor muscles.

Long Squeezes

- To perform this exercise, sit or lie down with your knees slightly apart.

- Repeat the same process as you did for a short squeeze - first pull the muscles of the back passage, as if trying to prevent yourself from passing gas, then pull the muscles in front, as if trying to prevent yourself from urinating.

- This time, hold it for slightly longer, approximately 4 seconds.

- Remember to breathe normally and not clench the buttocks muscles nor pull the stomach.

- You might feel a slight pressure or tension in the lower abdomen, which is alright.

- Rest for a few seconds and then repeat the process. This is a long squeeze. If you find it too easy, try holding the pull for longer - around 8-10 seconds.

Once you’ve got the hang of the exercise, you can try it for longer durations of about 8-10 seconds, and in quicker succession with shorter rest pauses. For faster healing, you should start up on these exercises as soon after your delivery as possible. It might feel slightly sore when you begin, but many women have reported that as not being the case. Start at a slower pace to get yourself accustomed to it, and as you get the hang of it, increase time and pace.

Remember that with age, pelvic floor muscles become weaker. It’s better to strengthen them now that attempt to do it later on in life when it might be slightly more difficult. 

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