Have you ever experienced that embarrassing leaking phenomena while sneezing or coughing or laughing hard? It's called stress incontinence , and it's a serious matter for many pregnant women - especially in the later stages of pregnancy when the baby's weight increases, pressing more heavily upon the bladder and overstretching the pelvic floor muscles.
It's considered a common side effect of pregnancy, but new research shows that it can be prevented with just a few minutes of exercise a few times a week, a breakthrough that could spare women everywhere the embarrassment of trying too late to stop the inevitable escape of a few drops.
A study at a Madrid university that was published in the February 2013 issue of Neurourology and Urodynamics, followed 169 women throughout pregnancy. The control group received regular prenatal care but no structured exercise program. The exercise group participated in a 55-60 minute prenatal fitness class 3 times a week which included 10 minutes of pelvic floor muscle training (Kegel exercises). The study measured the women at 10 to 14 weeks gestation and again at 36-39 weeks for frequency of urinary incontinence. The results were undeniable: the exercise group exhibited significantly less urinary incontinence than the control group.
Now there is one more reason to exercise regularly throughout pregnancy and to incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your prenatal exercise routine. Many prenatal programs — especially those designed by prenatal exercise specialists — will include pelvic floor muscle training. If not, you can add your own, here's how:
As you perform any exercise in tune with your breath, on the exhalation draw inward and upward in the pelvic floor.
Hold that strong contraction through the following inhalation and release as you exhale.
Incorporate Kegel exercises anywhere you are: while stopped at traffic lights, waiting in line in the grocery, or while practicing another important pregnancy exercise, the full squat position.
If you have trouble mastering a strong contraction or knowing if you are contracting the correct muscles, ask your doctor or midwife at your next appointment.
How did prenatal exercise help you?