One of the biggest concerns for pregnant and post natal women is the pelvic floor - how they can help prepare for labour and how they strengthen after the birth. Yoga is a great way to prepare for all aspects of child birth and is relaxing and effective way to develop the pelvic floor.
Exercise for your pelvic floor is so important and should be included as part of your everyday exercise and yoga routine. Regular practice of pelvic floor exercises when pregnant will keep them toned and help ensure they survive pregnancy without suffering any damage.
There are several ways you can strengthen your pelvic floor with yoga, which can be fitted in to your day with just a few minutes.
Watch the video below to see how you can strengthen through breath and muscular focus. This is also very calming to do before bed if you are suffering from insomnia!
The other most common way to practice your pelvic floor exercises, is through engaging in a squatting pose. Only as far as you are comfortable to, squat down on your toes or, if you find this difficult, use a supported squatting position with yoga blocks, or a cushion under your buttocks. Your pelvic floor muscles are completely relaxed in this position so you can be aware of how well you can tighten them.
Close your eyes and focus on your pelvic floor.
Breathe in and draw your pelvic floor muscles upwards towards your uterus. You should not be moving the muscles in your buttocks or your abdominals. Breathe out and release. Repeat three of four times.
Make it harder by tightening the pelvic floor muscles as your breathe in, holding it tight whilst you exhale. Inhale again and then release as you breathe out.
Now try tightening and letting go in quick succession whilst breathing normally.
And finally do your pelvic floor exercises in stages:
- Breathe in, lift the muscles just a little way and hold. Then contract a little more to bring them up higher. Pause a moment before lifting your muscles just a little higher again. Pause once more before lifting the muscles as high as you can go.
- Now reverse the movement, breathing out and releasing just a little way before pausing. A little further and pause - and again and pause - before letting your muscles relax with the final exhalation.
- These exercises can be done right up until you give birth and even if you aren't able to do any other exercise, we would recommend spending time stretching, working on controlled breathing and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles! You can also start straight after giving birth to help aid with recovery.
Yoga Expert tip: If your baby is in the breech position avoid squatting after 34 weeks as it might encourage the baby to engage. Instead kneel with your legs wide, drop your elbows to the floor and rest your head on your arms (the knee-chest position) and practise your pregnancy pelvic floor exercises in this inverted pose instead.