Why kegels are not the best birth prep exercise

During my first pregnancy my pregnancy class teacher was insistent we did our kegels, squeeze, hold, release. I half did them but wasn’t particularly keen – I found them a bit uncomfortable to be honest.

But are they essential for preventing sneeze pee and other postpartum incontinence?

If you think about it preparing for birth needs to be all about releasing and opening so to have an exercise which is all about holding and tightening exactly the area that needs to open the most to allow your baby to be born seems confusing and contradictory.

And why are our bodies so weak that the natural phenomenon of pregnancy and birth so damaging?

The pelvic floor is designed to hold up the contents of the pelvis. It should work reflexively – much like the core – there should be no need to consciously spend time strengthening it.

So why is it that it fails us so often after birth?

Well really it is a myth that only women who have had babies suffer with pelvic floor dysfunction – anyone can have it.

The problem originates from the pelvic floor muscles being too tight, tight muscles are weak. So doing more exercises to tighten them will make them weaker but also if you work on your pelvic floor only to tighten it, it will be harder for you to relax it when it comes time to birth your baby.

And pelvic floor muscles become tight from misalignment of the pelvis. So the key is to align the pelvis which will create a functioning pelvic floor and then be able to release tension in this area so your pelvic floor can become naturally strong and functional and able to open to allow your baby to be born.

Rosie Dhoopun is a Movement Teacher, Pregnancy and postnatal exercise specialist and pelvic floor restore and diastasis recti rehab consultant. She offers 1-2-1 coaching, workshops and classes. 

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