Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pelvic Floor Exercises and Perineal Massage

In the interest of efficiency, I have put pelvic floor exercises together along with perineal massage. Pelvic floor exercises can be performs everyday while perineal massage should be done after week 34 of your pregnancy.

Most people don’t think about pelvic floor muscles as a form of calorie burning exercise they need to do so they just don’t do it. As a trainer, when I tell someone to engage their pelvic floor muscle and lower abdominals, they typically look at me like I have two heads.

Doing pelvic floor exercises can improve your sex life and help with incontinence. Incontinence is the inability to control your bladder. When I was working at Sports Club LA, I would have to ask every single new client if they suffered from it. It was quite an personal question but there are easy exercise solutions that can help with this problem. One of the most discreet way is by doing pelvic floor exercises which has an bonus benefit of helping engage your lower abdominals more effectively, which means seeing results quicker, with less reps.

The pelvic floor muscles are often described as a trampoline like structure that works to support the bladder, vagina, womb, and rectum, holding them in the correct place. During pregnancy, these muscles become stretched from week 12 and get weaker as your baby grows.

Doing pelvic floor exercises will help you support your baby as your bump grows and shorten the second stage of labor, as well as speed up your recovery after the baby is born.

The stop test is an effective way to help you check the strength of your muscles. When passing urine, try to stop mid stream. This is NOT the exercise and should not be performed more than once a week. 

To locate the muscles, sit relaxed on an upright chair, knees apart, pelvis in neutral, keep your buttocks relaxed.
  1. Inhale, and tighten up the muscles around the vagina and then relax them. Try not to tighten the muscles of your buttocks. You will know if you are, because you will notice that your body lifts up a little.
  2. Exhale and relax.
  3. Repeat, and tighten the muscles around your vagina and try to imagine giving your baby an internal hug.
  4. Exhale and relax. Try not to hold your breath, or let your shoulders tighten up while you do it
  5. Repeat the tightening 8 more time, then relax. Repeat for 3 sets
  6. Once you have perfected this technique, you can try to exhale as you tighten, and inhale when you relax.

Another technique used in Pregnancy Health Yoga with Tara Lee is the elevator technique.

  1. Knee onto all fours with elbows below shoulders
  2. Inhale and draw your pelvic floor muscles upward in 3 stages, lift, lift , lift. Picture yourself going up on an elevator 1, 2, 3.
  3. Exhale, lower, lower, lower. Picture yourself going down on the elevator in 3 stages. 
  4. Do this for 10 reps, 3 sets. 

Perineal Massage

Research has shown that if this massage is done correctly, it can help prevent tearing, and the dreaded episiotomy.  

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Then find a private place and sit or lean back in a comfortable position.
  3. Bend your legs, and open them out to the side.
  4. Use a lubricant such as KY jelly, or  olive oil, vitamin E oil or pure vegetable oil on your index fingers and around the perineum.
  5. Place your fingers about 1 to 1 1/2 inches (three to four centimeters) inside your vagina. Press downward and to the sides at the same time.
  6. Gently and firmly keep stretching until you feel a slight burning, tingling or stinging sensation.
  7. With your fingers, hold the pressure steady for about two minutes or until the area becomes a little numb and you don't feel the tingling as much.
  8. As you keep pressing with your thumbs, slowly and gently massage back and forth over the lower half of your vagina, working the lubricant into the tissues. Keep this up for three to four minutes.
  9. As you massage, pull gently outward (and forward) on the lower part of the vagina with your thumbs hooked inside. This helps stretch the skin much in the same way that the baby's head will stretch it during birth.
  10. Do this massage once or twice per day, starting around the 34th week of pregnancy.
  11. After about a week, you should notice an increase in flexibility and stretchiness.

Below is a video that shows you the how to if you find the instructions confusing. But unlike what she says, most ladies will not be able to use their thumbs for the massage as their bump is too big and can’t reach.

Video: Perineal Massage




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