Daily Pelvic Floor Therapy / Exercise Routine for Pregnancy
Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
This daily pelvic floor exercise routine helps you keep your pelvic floor in great shape this pregnancy.
Before starting your exercise routine, make sure you can find and feel your pelvic floor so that you’re practicing the correct pelvic floor exercise technique.
Pelvic floor exercises feel like squeezing and lifting inwards, in and around all three pelvic openings together followed by a distinct letting go sensation when lowering the pelvic floor muscles back to resting position.
Step 1 Position your Body
Start in the position you can best feel your pelvic floor exercises – lying down, sitting or standing. Standing upright is an ideal strengthening position; your pelvic floor muscles need to lift against gravity and this is where you need your pelvic floor muscles to work most.
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak or if you are in the more advanced stages of pregnancy you may find lying down exercises easier to perform and more comfortable.
Step 2 Correct your Posture
If you’re standing or sitting:
- Lengthen your spine
- Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling
- Maintain the inwards curve in your lower back throughout your exercises
If you’re lying down keep the inwards curve in your lower back throughout.
Daily Pelvic Floor Workout Routine
- Long Slow Pelvic Floor Exercises for Strengthening
Strong thick pelvic floor muscles help you support the weight of your growing baby as your body changes and reduce your risk of pelvic floor problems. Weak pelvic floor muscles increase your risk of pelvic floor stretch and strain during pregnancy.
Every day of your pregnancy aim to:
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles using the correct technique
- Keep your muscles contracted for 3-10 seconds
- Release your pelvic floor muscles back to resting
- Rest your pelvic floor muscles up to 1-2 mins before repeating your next exercise
- Repeat 8-12 strong contractions in a row to fatigue (this is one full set of exercise)
- Aim to complete 1-3 sets of long slow pelvic floor exercises every day
- Short Fast Pelvic Floor Contractions for Power
Short fast repeated pelvic floor exercises train the power of your pelvic floor muscles. Training power helps your pelvic floor cope with forceful everyday activities such as sneezing.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles using a strong fast contraction for 1- 2 seconds, before releasing and resting briefly.
- Repeat these short fast repeated exercises until your muscles fatigue or up to 10-20 times in a row.
- Aim to complete 1-3 sets of short fast exercises every day – ideally after your long slow repeated exercises.
Tips for Getting the Most from Training
- Focusing on using the correct pelvic floor exercise technique rather than the number of repetitions you perform – it’s far more effective to do 1 or 2 exercises correctly rather than doing more exercises using the wrong technique
- Increase the number of repeated exercises you do over time
- Make every exercise your strongest attempt when you’re really confident in your technique
- Lift your pelvic floor muscles as high as possible
- Slowly lower your pelvic floor back to resting rather than letting it fall
- Reduce the time you spend recovering between exercises as your strength improves
How Long to see Results?
There are usually initial rapid strength gains with pelvic floor exercises during the first month of training. Studies show that in women strengthening can take up to 6 months in women with weak pelvic floor muscles. (Bo et al 1990).
As pregnancy progresses the load on the pelvic floor increases. This load increases the demand on the pelvic floor which means that you need to be diligent and patient with your pelvic floor exercises throughout the entire pregnancy and after your baby has been delivered.
If you need help with pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy or after childbirth contact a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist or the Continence Foundation of Australia for further assistance.