Exercise and pelvic floor muscles
During pregnancy, healthy nutrition, daily exercise, refraining from intoxicants and oral health become increasingly important. These will directly affect the well-being and health of the foetus and mother. Pregnancy is a good time to evaluate your habits so that you can be the best possible growing environment for your baby. Your well-being will have an immediate impact on your baby’s health as well. Furthermore, the health choices of an expectant mother’s partner and other people close to her will reflect on her behaviour.
Raskaus- ja imetysajan liikkuminen (Neuvokas perhe, in Finnish)
The exercises and instructions on this website are intended for expectant mothers and in part also for their partners. The videos have been designed by the City of Helsinki’s physiotherapists. For more information, please contact the centralised physiotherapy booking number 09 3106 7000 from Monday to Friday at 8–15.
The pelvic floor has strong muscles, which support and carry the bladder, urethra, rectum and, for the women, the womb and the vagina. The purpose of these muscles is to react to the pressure from the abdomen, for example during coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, running and jumping. In addition to this, the pelvic floor muscles bring pleasure to both women and men during sex. Stretched, lazy or unused pelvic floor muscles may cause incontinence, bladder and uterus prolapse and difficulties with intercourse. The pelvic floor muscles are voluntary muscles: they can and should be trained regularly, especially when pressure near the abdomen grows. Pregnancy and birth put a big strain on a woman’s pelvic floor muscles.
Women: Start training by lying on your back, knees bent and the soles of your feet against the ground. First, clench your anus while ‘drawing’ it inside and upwards. Continue the clench forwards and upwards, like you were holding in urine. Then, continue the clench upwards in your vagina, like ‘sucking’ in a heavy, round stone. Keep the imagined stone up and count to two. After this, relax the muscles and count to two again. You can check that you have found the right muscles by inserting a finger inside your vagina and clenching the muscles tightly around the finger.
When you have found your pelvic floor muscles, it is easy to keep training them, either sitting down or standing, almost any time and anywhere. The exercises cannot be seen, but they can be felt deep inside the pelvic floor. Do not tense your diaphragm or hold your breath while doing the exercises. After giving birth, it may be difficult and painful to look for and touch these muscles. Start training them carefully, in accordance with your own feelings. Stretched pelvic floor muscles recover quickest with the help of daily exercises.
Clench the muscles as hard as you can and hold, counting to five. Then, relax the muscles while counting to ten. Repeat the exercise 5 to 6 times in a row and then rest about 5 minutes.
Clench the muscles slowly and hold, counting to ten. Relax the muscles while counting to twenty. Repeat the exercise 10 to 20 times. When you can do that easily, you can hold the clench longer, up to 30 seconds. Always keep the muscles relaxed double the time of the clench. Repeat the exercise until the muscles are tired and then rest about 5 minutes. You can maintain strong muscles by training them a few times a day. Women can also make the exercises more efficient by using Kegel exercisers, such as Vagitrim balls. Using the muscles during intercourse also trains them and brings more pleasure.