Exercising After ChildbirthSo, congratulations are in order!  Well that’s the hard part out of the way, right?  Physically maybe, but you have an exciting, yet extremely challenging journey ahead of you.  You’re unlikely to have more than a moment to yourself for around the next twenty years, so when it comes to your pelvic floor, it’s doubtful that you will have given it a second thought.  However, exercising the pelvic floor takes a matter of minutes a day, and when we consider how debilitating pelvic floor dysfunction after childbirth can be; it is certainly worth dedicating a tiny portion of your day to it.  

The pelvic floor is made up of muscles, ligaments and fibres, which stretch like a tight sling from the pubic bone to the coccyx (tailbone).  These muscles naturally expand during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby.  Similarly, they are stretched during labour itself as your baby makes its way through the birthing canal.  The pelvic floor can be overstretched and weakened further in the event of prolonged pushing, perineal tearing/episiotomy, or assisted delivery (with forceps).  Weaker muscles are much less effective, which in many cases can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction.

 There are various conditions associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, including stress incontinence, pelvic or abdominal pain, sexual dysfunction (plus lack of sensitivity) and in extreme cases pelvic organ prolapse (when one or more of the pelvic organs move downwards into the vagina).   All of which can be treated by performing some very simple pelvic floor exercises as part of your after delivery exercise regime.

Many women believe that stress incontinence is part and parcel of becoming a new mother. However, this is absolutely not the case.  Not only is it an unnecessary sacrifice, it can also have adverse effects on both physical and mental wellbeing.  When we refer to stress incontinence, we mean a small leak of urine which occurs due to additional pressure being placed on the abdomen.  This can be caused by anything from a cough, to jumping up and down.  As such, many new mums stop exercising altogether and make changes to their daily routine to avoid embarrassment.  This not only affects fitness, it can be very demoralising and result in anxiety or even depression.  It is believed that one in three new mums will suffer with stress incontinence as a result of childbirth.  By toning the muscles it is possible to rebuild the strength of the pelvic floor, thereby regaining control over the body.

Strengthening the muscles in the pelvic floor can not only treat pelvic floor dysfunction, it also aids recovery and speeds up the entire healing process.  A common souvenir from labour is the bruising and swelling of the perineum.  Working the muscles in the pelvic floor improves blood circulation to the perineum, which effectively reduces this tissue damage.  Additionally, pelvic floor exercise helps to stave off problems in the future.  Regardless of whether or not you are struggling with a condition currently, your muscles will undoubtedly be weaker than they were prior to pregnancy.  Without performing postnatal exercises, it is likely that you will suffer some form of pelvic floor dysfunction during your lifetime.

After six weeks you will have your postnatal check.  It may be worth making an appointment with your doctor or physiotherapist prior to this if you had an assisted birth, experienced a severe tear, or were leaking urine in your first six weeks of pregnancy.  If, six weeks after giving birth, you are still struggling with manual pelvic floor exercises, are in any pain, or still leaking urine, it is essential that you tell your doctor.  Please don’t put it off; it may result in further complications.

Remember; don’t rush into anything too strenuous!  We know how much pressure new mums put on themselves to get back into shape, but be careful not to do too much too soon.  If your pelvic floor feels heavy it is important to slow down.  We know that your main priority now is your child.  However, in order to take care of them, it is essential that you keep taking good care of yourself!

How can I strengthen my pelvic floor postpartum?

You will almost certainly have engaged in pelvic floor exercises throughout pregnancy, and perhaps even beforehand.  However, if this is not the case don’t despair; it’s never too late to start!

If you’ve never exercised your pelvic floor before, it is essential to locate exactly where it is in the body.  The easiest way to do this is to stop yourself mid-stream next time you go to the toilet.  The muscles that contract to stop the flow of urine make up part of the pelvic floor.

Now you know exactly where they are, these simple exercises can be performed to gradually rebuild your muscle strength;

  • Squeeze your anal passage as if restricting wind
  • Squeeze the urethra as if stopping the flow of urine
  • Whilst lying down squeeze the pelvic floor muscles, lifting inwards and upwards

Manual pelvic floor exercises can be carried out as soon as one or two days after giving birth.  You may experience a lack of sensitivity to begin with, but be patient and persevere; it won’t be long before you notice a change.

We recommend performing these exercises once or twice a day initially; however this can be gradually increased over time. If you experience any discomfort or pain, relax and try again later. It can take between three and six months to have you feeling like you’ve got your pre-pregnancy body back.

Start the healing process & regain strength in the pelvic floor post-partum in as little as 12 weeks, with the help of the Kegel8 Ultra 20 & Amanda Savage!

Amanda Savage is one of the UK’s leading specialist pelvic floor and women’s health physiotherapists, who has worked in the field for over 20 years offering supervised pelvic floor muscle training and support for the recovery of pelvic organ prolapses, incontinence and pelvic surgeries. With post-graduate qualifications, including a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, she has also gained full membership of the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP). As a Kegel8 ambassador, Amanda Savage has worked alongside us for many years in the development of our best-selling device, the Kegel8 Ultra 20 V2 Electronic Pelvic Toner, to ensure its efficacy. In addition, she has been integral to ensuring all supporting information and instructions are medically accurate so that the device is used correctly/effectively, and treatment is tailored to the specific condition of the user.

Find out more about Amanda Savage, her qualifications, experience, knowledge, and affiliations here.

Amanda Savage

Comes complete with an easy exercise plan, created by Amanda Savage, to get results in 12 weeks!

Welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world is likely to be the happiest moment of your life. But it can also be the most challenging, in many ways! Indeed, you are now responsible for a little life. But, as daunting as that sounds, it’s important to remember that to take care of them, you need to take care of yourself!

Since giving birth, you have probably noticed many differences in your body! That’s because the pelvic floor muscles must stretch to accommodate your baby during delivery, which can result in weakness and damage. However, this damage/weakness is certainly not irreversible and is, by no means, an inevitability of childbirth. By simply performing regular pelvic floor exercise, it is possible to re-build the strength and endurance of the muscles to ensure optimum bladder and bowel control. That means no more annoying ‘leaks’ when you sneeze or laugh! In addition, by building strength and tone in the pelvic floor, your organs will be better supported, which will prevent prolapse and stop your symptoms from worsening over time.

In the first 12 weeks after your baby is born, you’re encouraged to do pelvic floor exercises but, as the body is still very fragile, it’s not advised to use a muscle stimulation machine until after 12 weeks have passed. Until then, use traditional Kegel exercises without the assistance of a device. After 12 weeks, you can use a muscle stimulation machine to help improve circulation to the pelvic floor and perineum and to help exercise the muscles. We recommend using the Kegel8 Ultra 20 V2 Electronic Pelvic Toner once the initial 12 weeks have passed. Removing the guesswork and essentially acting as a Sat-Nav for your pelvic floor muscles, it correctly targets and stimulates a contraction within them using a small electric current. These contractions build strength and tone in a matter of weeks! With 20 clinically proven pelvic floor exercise programmes which vary in frequency, intensity and duration, the Ultra 20 is proven to treat a variety of different conditions, including bladder and bowel weakness post-partum and pelvic organ prolapse. And, in addition to tailored programmes, the specific 12-week exercise plans created by Amanda Savage advise exactly how the device should be used, depending upon the condition, to ensure the very best treatment.

The included 12-week treatment plan for postpartum recovery has been specifically created to re-build the strength and endurance of the muscles to ensure optimum bladder and bowel control following pregnancy and labour. It also calms the nerves responsible that can cause sensitivity in the bladder and builds strength and tone in the pelvic floor, so the organs are better supported to prevent prolapse and stop symptoms from worsening over time. The plan encourages new mothers to take things slowly and has been expertly tailored to utilise the right programmes at the right time to ensure optimum results.