Do Kegel Exercises Actually Work With Postpartum Recovery? An Expert Weighs In
After having a baby, it can be tough to get to know your body again. Some of the biggest fears women have about pregnancy and birth revolve around their bodies, especially the pelvic area — it seems like every little thing is different, and often, not in a way that feels good. When you consider that some of the ways pregnancy affects your body can even be long term, you begin wondering about your postpartum recovery. Many moms experience pelvic pain and incontinence post-delivery, but how can you treat it? Do Kegel exercises actually work with postpartum recovery? Well, they can definitely help.
According to Fit Pregnancy, your pelvic floor muscles act as a sling for the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Since all of these areas are commonly affected by pregnancy and birth, one of the most important long-term health recommendations for healing and recovering after birth is to do Kegel exercises. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegels after you give birth can help to ease the pain and incontinence that can occur after delivery.
As the American Pregnancy Association noted, the best thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere, and no one knows you’re doing them. But, according to Self, 25 percent of women who do Kegels don't do them correctly.
And, quite honestly, they're not always easy to do. "Women who have just given birth vaginally will initially feel nothing at all when trying to engage their pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises," physiotherapist Lynda McClatchie of Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness in Ontario, Canada tells Romper. "You have to re-train (or train, as many people never do Kegels at all) your brain and body to understand how to properly contract these muscles, and then be persistent." With patience and persistence, your pelvic floor muscles will get stronger.
If you're having trouble doing your Kegels, or aren't even sure of where to start, don't be shy to ask. Your doctor or a pelvic floor specialist (many physical therapists specialize in helping women strengthen their pelvic floor) can give you feedback and help you to learn how to do Kegels properly.