Kegels in Pregnancy
Everyone know what the Kegel exercise is? The "squeeze everything down there and hope I'm doing it right" exercise - have you just done it? - commonly given to expectant mothers so that "their pelvic floor will be alright" after birth.
Rightly or wrongly, lets have a think and break it down a bit.
We have four main central diaphragms:
- Diaphragm Sellae: Inside our heads.
- Cervical Diaphragm: Involves your tongue and the muscles in you neck.
- Thoracic Diaphragm: The diaphragm we all know, separates thoracic cage and abdomen.
- Pelvic Diaphragm AKA Pelvic Floor:
Through connections of muscle, ligament, tendon, fascia and bone these diaphragms span and attach a full 360 degrees to our insides at their given level.
I hope my hastily made model below helps with your visualisation.
Now, lets get a little bit technical. When we are healthy, all these diaphragms simultaneously descend (move down) when you breathe in and ascend (move up) when you breathe out.
They are each dependant on the other to function correctly. If we unnecessarily over strengthen our pelvic floor during pregnancy, it inhibits the downward motion of the pelvic floor when we draw breath.
We then see exacerbated issues with bladder leakage and control as the whole system bares down but the pelvic floor is unable to give - rendering the bladder squashed and irritated.
This then begins to reverberate back up the system as the other diaphragms become dysfunctional in relation to the pelvic floor - leading to a host of other unwanted symptoms in our pregnancy.
And if we think about it logically, do we really want an over toned, super strong pelvic floor when we need to push a baby out?
If your pelvic floor was just fine prior to pregnancy, it is unlikely that you need to be doing Kegels during pregnancy. Breath on the other hand, breath is your new best friend.
Quick Pelvic Floor Check
Get comfortable put a hand between your legs and cup your vagina (in the vague possibility that any men are reading this - feel for the bit between your scrotum and anus, this is important for your prostate health and fertility). Bring your awareness into your breath. Follow your breath in and out. Really draw it down through your thorax, abdomen and pelvis. Can you feel your pelvic floor rising and falling? Practise this breathing technique morning and night until you feel the connection. Just eight or so really deep focused breaths morning and night helps to balance compartmental pressures, clear congestion and get everything flowing again.
If you have any concerns before, during or after your pregnancy you can book online here.