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Elena Donovan Mauer

The Kegels Controversy

Some experts say doing these pelvic floor exercises can help prepare you for an easier delivery. Others say not so much. So what’s the real deal?

So what’s the deal with all the conflicting information out there on Kegels? It really depends on whom you ask. Our fitness expert says  Kegel exercises can help make childbirth easier, but one of our pregnancy and childbirth experts says that’s not necessarily true.

Well, neither expert is actually wrong. It’s just that there’s evidence on both sides that isn’t exactly conclusive, according to Laura Riley, MD, medical director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Practically, what I see is that most women don’t do Kegels correctly before or after pregnancy,” says Riley, which might explain why they don’t work for many people. “Women who have excellent pelvic floor muscles tend to be in the Pilates, yoga and exercise crowd, and they have well-supported perinea at delivery and they push their babies right out. I’m not sure that it’s solely due to the pelvic floor strength but, rather, being in good shape all around, which we know shortens labor.”

So the answer is, Kegel exercises may help with childbirth, as long as you’re staying fit overall — and you’re doing them correctly. ( Find out how here.) And they definitely can help prevent incontinence issues during and after pregnancy, so they’re still worth doing. Think about it this way: They certainly can’t hurt.

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Photo: Daria Riabova
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