5 cut papayas lined up against a green wall.

Ever since she had kids, it seemed like her bladder was no longer under her control.

Sometimes she would wet herself as soon as she unlocked the door when she got home from work. Other times it would happen when she was running after her kids in the park. And there were even a few times when she leaked a little bit when she sneezed.

Her doctor told her that this was completely normal after having kids and that the best thing to do was to do kegels regularly. But even after months of diligently doing kegels every day, nothing changed.

So, on the advice of a friend, the woman decided to go see a pelvic floor physical therapist.

The therapist did an evaluation and found out that the woman’s pelvic floor muscles were actually quite tight. They weren’t weak after all!

And kegels weren’t the solution to her problem.

After a few sessions of pelvic floor physical therapy, the woman found that her bladder control improved significantly.

Can you relate to this story?

Maybe you don’t leak, but you have a prolapse. Or sex is painful.

Were you told to just do a bunch of kegels?

Many conditions that are common to the postpartum experience are frequently brushed off as “normal” and patients are told to kegel their problems away.

If you’re pregnant or postpartum, there’s a good chance your doctor has, at some point, told you to do kegels.

But here’s a thing that I’ve observed:

A lot folks don’t really know what a kegel is.

They don’t know how to do them or they question whether they’re doing them correctly. And almost no one is aware that kegels are an exercise to be prescribed judiciously by an informed provider.

So let’s fix that.

Here are three truths and one GIANT misconception about kegel exercises to set the record straight.

Truth 1. There’s more than one way to kegel.

Your pelvic floor is not just one muscle.

And so there’s not just one way to kegel!

Your pelvic floor is actually composed of a bunch of different muscles. Those muscles have a bunch of openings. And there are a bunch of ways to contract around those openings.

Truth 2. A kegel is more than just a pelvic muscle contraction.

It’s a contraction AND a relaxation. For good pelvic floor function, you’ve got to train your muscles through their entire range of motion.

Consider what would happen if you kept your bicep in a curl 24/7! That won’t build a stronger bicep.

Truth 3. Kegels can’t spot treat.

Your pelvic floor doesn’t work in isolation.

“Kegels” refer to isolated pelvic floor contractions. But, the pelvic floor isn’t designed to work by itself. It works as part of a coordinated team. This team works best when the function of all its members is balanced.

By overtraining one member, by over-Kegel-ing for example, one can throw off that balance.

Rather than doing a traditional Kegel exercise, try performing pelvic floor contractions in coordination with your breath. I call this the Connection Breath.

Here’s the abbreviated version:

Inhale–> relax the pelvic floor muscles.

Exhale–> gently contract pelvic muscles.

For detailed instructions on how to perform the Connection Breath, snag my free resource, The No B.S. Guide to a Stronger, Drier Pregnancy and Postpartum.

It’s a user manual for your pelvic floor and it’ll teach you the Connection Breath step-by-step.

Lie: Everyone should do kegels.

Kegels are not the answer to all the problems in your pants. 

Pelvic floor muscles can be tight OR weak and there’s a ton of symptom overlap between the two states.

Many people have a tight pelvic floor but think it’s weak. 

If you want to know why you’re having pelvic floor discomfort, pain or leaks- you need to check in with a pelvic floor physical therapist.

Do any of facts come as a surprise?? Please share your burning Kegel-related questions in the comments👇🏽👇🏽

 

A user manual for your pelvic floor👇🏽👇🏽.
Get your FREE copy of
The No B.S. Guide to a Stronger, Drier Pregnancy & Postpartum.

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Redmond, WA-based Seattle birth doula Laura Jawad, headshot

My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.

Contact me if you have questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I also offer personal training services and consultations to folks locally (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and online.

Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach, Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach and Postnatal Fitnesses Specialist.

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