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  • Nicole Wodka

    Nicole Wodka is a pelvic floor physical therapist with a passion for helping moms experiencing pain, incontinence, or other physical issues during pregnancy and postpartum. She is co-owner of Emerge Physical Therapy & Wellness in Lincoln Park.

    Nicole Wodka

    Nicole Wodka is a pelvic floor physical therapist with a passion for helping moms experiencing pain, incontinence, or other physical issues during pregnancy and postpartum. She is co-owner of Emerge Physical Therapy & Wellness in Lincoln Park.

    Pelvic floor exercises new moms can do at home

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    New moms often deal with lower back pain and urinary leaking due to a weak pelvic floor. Try these at-home exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor.

     

    Pelvic floor strengthening is a great way for new moms to improve symptoms of urinary leaking or low back/pelvic pain. Plus, they can be done anywhere! Before you jump right into exercises, let’s learn a little about the pelvic floor. 

    Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that span your pelvis and act to support your organs, maintain normal bowel and bladder function (going when you want to—not leaking when you don’t want to!), and sexual function.

    First, it is important to perform a pelvic floor contraction correctly. When contracting your pelvic floor, you should feel the muscles close in and up, like an elevator rising towards your ribcage. In order to feel if you are doing the exercise correctly, you can feel just inside your sits bone and gently feel the muscles pull in and away from your fingers as you contract, you should not feel muscles bulging out.  

    [Related: Breastfeeding inequality: It's time to end the mommy wars]

    Kegels (pelvic floor isometric contraction)

    • Kegels should be performed with “quick flicks” and long holds. 
    • The quick flicks should be a complete contraction and complete relaxation of the muscles quickly 10 times. 
    • The long holds should be about 3-5 seconds long with an equal duration of rest in between for 10 repetitions.  
    • Both “quick flicks” and long holds should be performed 2-3 sets per day. You can do this sitting, standing, or laying down.

    Abdominal bracing

    • We are adding the contraction of your transverse abdominis, an abdominal muscle that acts like a corset to the contraction of your pelvic floor.
    • Start with a pelvic floor contraction (kegel) and then engage your abdomen by bringing your belly button straight into your spine.  
    • You should feel the contraction of the correct abdominal muscle (your transverse abdominis) by placing your fingers gently halfway between your belly button and the bony part of your pelvis.  
    • Hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds with equal rest in between repetitions for 10 repetitions.
    • Most important is to make sure you maintain normal breathing and do not hold your breath. You can do this sitting, standing, or laying down, 2-3 sets per day.

    [Related: Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression]

    Hip bridge with adduction

    • For this exercise, you will need a pillow, ball, or rolled-up towel.  
    • Start laying on your back with your knees bent and the object squeezed between your knees.
    • Maintaining pressure on the object, lift your hips up squeezing your butt at the top. Pause for 5 seconds with your hips lifted, then slowly lower down and repeat.  
    • Performed 10 times, 2-3 sets per day.

    Squats

    • Start standing and engage your pelvic floor engaged, up and in
    • Maintain the pelvic floor contraction as you squat, pause at the bottom, and return to standing
    • To squat with correct form, it should feel like you are sitting your butt back on a chair and maintaining your knees directly over your toes.
    • Performed 10 times, 2-3 sets per day.
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