I can confidently tell you that while pregnant, you can safely perform the series of Kegel exercises as coached on our Hab-It: Pelvic Floor DVD in any of the three positions demonstrated on the video. These positions include lying on your back, sitting, and standing. Although lying on your back can be contra-indicated during pregnancy due to pressure on your abdominal aorta, the two-minute segment of our Kegel sequence is sufficiently short to alleviate concern.
Today, however, I want to provide a 4th, alternate, position for those who want to avoid lying on their back altogether when doing exercises. This is a side-lying position in which we can perform our same Kegel sequence.
To begin, position yourself on your side with your head placed on a pillow or your hand. Bend your knees to 90 degrees, with one leg directly on top of the other. Your shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in line, with your knees bent out in front.
In this position, first perform a Kegel contraction by tightening your pelvic floor as if to stop the flow of urine or the passing of gas. Hold this Kegel contraction as you visualize yourself elevating your pelvic floor up into your pelvic outlet. Imagine there is a string attached from your belly button down to your pelvic floor and you are attempting to pull it up. Keep pulling that “string” up for a full 8-count.
At the count of 8, release your hold, relaxing your pelvic floor down and allowing yourself to take in a deep breath and release.
Now, follow with 4 quick flicks or quick Kegel contractions. Keep in mind, with this action, you are tightening the muscles around the openings of your pelvic floor as if you don’t want to pass any urine or gas. These are quick contractions with a quick release to a rhythm of “tighten, relax, tighten, relax” and so on for four quick flicks. Remember, this exercise isolates your pelvic floor so your back shouldn’t move and your legs should remain in the same position (bent at 90 degrees) as when you started the exercise.
A complete Kegel sequence consists of a pelvic floor elevation, followed by 4 quick flicks. I recommend you perform eight complete Kegel sequences each day to maintain good tone in your pelvic floor muscles. You do not have to perform all eight at once. You may find that your muscles fatigue too quickly to perform eight in a row, so you may benefit more from performing groups of Kegels throughout your day.
Remember, the key to successful rehabilitation of the pelvic floor is consistency!