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What Are Kegel Exercises?

 
Although the effects of Kegel exercises can't be seen from the outside, some women use them to reduce incontinence (the leakage of urine) caused by the weight of the baby on their bladder. Kegels help to strengthen the "pelvic floor muscles" (the muscles that aid in controlling urination). Kegels also improve circulation to your rectal and vaginal area, helping to keep hemorrhoids at bay and speeding healing after an episiotomy or tear during childbirth.

Kegels are easy, and you can do them any time you have a few seconds - sitting in your car, at your desk, or standing in line at the store. No one will even know you're doing them!

To find the correct muscles, pretend you're trying to stop urinating. Squeeze those muscles for a few seconds, then relax. You're using the correct muscles if you feel a pull. Or Insert a clean finger inside your vagina and feel it tighten when you squeeze. Or try a Kegel during lovemaking and ask your partner if he can feel it. If you're doing it correctly, he'll be able to feel you "hug" his penis. Your doctor can also help you identify the correct muscles.

A few things to keep in mind when you're doing Kegel exercises:
  • Don't tighten other muscles (stomach or legs, for example) at the same time. You want to focus on the muscles you're exercising. It might help to place a hand on your belly while you're doing your Kegels to make sure that it stays relaxed.
  • Don't hold your breath while you do them because it's important that your body and muscles continue to receive oxygen while you do any type of exercise.
  • Don't regularly do Kegels by stopping and starting your flow of urine while you're actually going to the bathroom, as this can lead to incomplete emptying of your bladder, which increases the risk of urinary tract infections.
Finally, continuing to do Kegel exercises regularly after giving birth not only helps you maintain bladder control, but also improves muscle tone in your vagina, making postpartum sex more enjoyable.
 






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Women who exercise during pregnancy may require a higher energy intake than the extra
150 to 300 calories per day recommended for non exercising women.
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Exercise may make pregnancy more comfortable, shorten labor and reduce the need for obstetric interventions.
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