5 Pelvic Floor Exercises for Pregnant Women

A pelvic floor is a group of muscles found at the base of the pelvic area (bottom of the torso), these muscles are responsible for supporting the bladder, uterus, and bowel. In pregnancy, the pelvic area undergoes stress and strain. Engaging in pelvic floor exercises when pregnant can help strengthen the pelvic floor and prevent certain common complications. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, can also help the body cope and withstand the growing weight and shape of the baby. Additionally, strengthening the pelvic floor helps can lead to a less strenuous birthing experience. Training your body to strengthen a muscle or muscle group can in fact improve your fitness level, making bouncing back post-pregnancy a lot easier.

What happens when the pelvic floor is weakened?

When the pelvic floor stretches to make room for the baby, it is weighed down and this can cause the group of muscles to weaken. Instead of bouncing back as it's supposed to after pregnancy, the pelvic floor may not return to its original position. A weakened pelvic floor can cause difficulty in controlling the bladder and bowels, making incontinence (leakage of urine or faeces) a frequent occurrence during and post-pregnancy. It is important to remember that incontinence is very common in pregnancy. Yes, exercising and stretching the pelvic floor can help with this issue however do refrain from vigorous exercises that can injure you or your baby. We at OETEO have curated a list of pelvic floor exercises that are non-strenuous and can help strengthen the pelvic floor.

Hip Bridges

Hip bridges require quick contractions of your pelvic floor to help activate the muscles faster and stronger to stop leaks upon sneezing or coughing.

  1. Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Raise your hips and lift them at a 45-degree angle form.
  3. As you lift your hips, squeeze your glutes and pelvic floor muscles.
  4. Maintain the pose for 30 seconds.
  5. Descend your hips back to the ground and relax your muscles.
  6. Repeat the exercise as you wish. 
Heel slides

Heel slides encourage pelvic floor contractions while targeting the deep abdominal muscles.

  1. Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent and pelvis in a neutral position.
  2. Inhale into the rib cage, then exhale through the mouth, letting your ribs naturally compress.
  3. Engage your core and slide your right heel away from you. Only go as far as you can while keeping your core engaged.
  4. Inhale and bring your leg back to starting position.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Do 10 slides on each side before changing to the other leg.

Squats increase core stability and encourage pelvic floor contractions.

  1. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Your toes should be pointed straight forward with your arms comfortably in front of you 
  3. Send your hips back while lowering your body to the ground 
  4. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  5. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as you lift back up into your starting position. 
  6. It is important to have proper form, ensuring the knees do not bend past your feet. 
  7. You can also add a dumbbell or kettlebell to your squat to increase the intensity.
Happy Baby Pose

The happy baby pose engages and trains the pelvic floor muscles in stretching and releasing.

  1. Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent.
  2. Bring your knees toward your belly at a 90-degree angle, with the soles of your feet facing up.
  3. Grab and hold the outside or inside of your feet.
  4. Open your knees until they’re slightly wider than your torso. 
  5. Flex your heels and push your feet into your hands. 
  6. Stay in this position for several breaths or gently rock from side to side.
Clam Shells

Clam shells trains and strengthens the deep muscles of the pelvic floor.

  1. Begin by lying sideways on the floor or bed with one arm supporting your head and the other on the ground to support your upper body.
  2. Your legs should be bent together at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Open your top leg, imitating a clam opening and remember to squeeze your pelvic floor as you lift your leg. 
  4. Return to the beginning posture and repeat in sets.
  5. Switch to the opposite side and repeat the exercise. 
  6. You can use resistance bands around your thighs to increase the intensity. 

 These 5 pelvic floor exercises are great for soon-to-be mothers in search of easy and non-strenuous exercise to help strengthen their pelvic floor while keeping fit.