Kegels not working?
Updated: Apr 1
Before I go into the reasons why Kegels may not be working for you, I'd like to give you a little background on my birth story and journey to full postnatal rehabilitation.
One particular moment stands out in my memory from the birth of my first child. As I read through the booklet provided by the hospital after returning home, my sense of love and contentment faded quickly. I had suffered a third-degree tear during labor, and as I read about the potential complications, such as incontinence and loss of body control, my anxiety and fear grew. As a professional dancer for 15 years, I had not anticipated losing faith in my pelvic floor post-birth.
Being a new mother is an intense learning experience, but dealing with physical challenges while trying to adjust to a "broken" body only adds to the feelings of isolation and stress that new mothers experience. Unfortunately, the medical system's postnatal care often fails new mothers and prevents them from regaining their strength and bodily autonomy.
It has become too common for women to accept issues such as incontinence, prolapse, and diastasis recti (mum tum) as a necessary part of motherhood. As a society and healthcare system, we fail to prepare new mothers for the possibility of major physical and psychological rehabilitation needs and do not provide the necessary support for proper post-birth body rehabilitation.
However, it is possible to reverse the damage done, even years later, through a holistic and functional body rebuilding technique known as Hypopressives. As someone who has been trained in Hypopressives, Pilates, and yoga, I have witnessed how the standard model of postnatal care in the UK often disappoints women. The problem arises from the fact that many new mothers are unaware of the specific needs of their body, given vague and outdated guidelines for regaining strength, and misled by the "bounce-back culture" that encourages high-intensity workouts.
Women need to understand the specific needs of their bodies and be encouraged to treat their pelvic floor like an injured muscle in need of proper rehabilitation. Unfortunately, kegel exercises are unlikely to be effective when given without explanation or proper breathing instructions. Moreover, if a woman’s pelvic floor is too tight (hypertonic) Kegels may be making their pelvic issues worse.
Many women come to me after accepting that pelvic floor dysfunction is an unavoidable consequence of giving birth. However, this does not have to be the case, and women should not be accepting suboptimal pelvic functioning as a lifelong consequence of motherhood. With the correct guidance, our bodies are incredibly resilient and can heal. Every postpartum woman should be given access to a woman's health physio and the support they need to heal and rebuild their bodies.
Want to learn more about Hypopressives and how it can help you, visit www.re-centre.co.uk.