Following childbirth, many new mums are concerned about their pelvic floor and preventing problems such as stress incontinence and prolapse. With a new baby to care for, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by everything and make a hasty purchase of Kegel weights or a pelvic floor training device. Before you do, it is important to understand how pelvic floor muscles work.
The pelvic floor muscles are located at the floor of the pelvis and form a hammock shape across the pelvic cavity.
Weak pelvic floor muscles symptoms and signs include:
- Urinary incontinence (especially stress incontinence which may happen when you cough, laugh, or exercise).
- Faecal incontinence.
- Reduced sensation during sex.
What Are Kegel Weights and Pelvic Floor Trainers?
Kegel weights also referred to as Kegel balls, and pelvic floor trainers are devices designed to be inserted into the vaginal canal. They are usually the shape of a cone or a ball, sometimes with a loop to pull them out. Made from a wide range of substances, although the most common is medical-grade silicone, they can be solid, firm, or pliable. Often women are led to believe that they need to use Kegel weights when exercising the pelvic floor. The hype around these products certainly seems to give that impression!
Are Kegel Weights Safe?
Kegel weights, in most cases, are safe to use, although it is essential to keep them clean to prevent bacterial infections. Some women also find that they suffer from urinary tract infections following the use of Kegel weights.
Although weak pelvic floor muscles normally cause pelvic floor dysfunction, this is not always the reason. Another condition that many women may not have ever heard about is an overactive pelvic floor. This means the pelvic floor muscles are contracted for longer periods, which can cause similar symptoms to weak pelvic floor muscles. Women who have this condition should avoid using Kegel weights, as they can worsen symptoms such as incontinence. Prior to starting any pelvic floor exercises, it is important to discuss this with your midwife or GP, who will be able to advise if you need further tests to determine the cause of your pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic Floor Exercises without Kegel Weights
Kegel weights are not needed to perform pelvic floor exercises, and when done correctly without Kegel weights, the results will be the same (or even better). Many women worry that they may not be doing pelvic floor exercises correctly, hence the rise in popularity of Kegel weights!
Three Methods to Find Pelvic Floor Muscles
Finding your pelvic floor muscles is vital before trying to do pelvic floor exercises. If you are tightening your buttock, abdominal, or thigh muscles, you will not get a result!
- Sit on the toilet lid, fitness ball, or hard surface with your feet flat on the floor, Lean slightly forward so your vulval is in contact with the hard surface. With your hands on your thighs try to lift your vagina and anus off the hard surface you’re sitting on.
- If you are a tampon user, try inserting one then pull gently on the string, at the same time contract your muscles around the tampon to stop it from coming out. This is a good way to isolate the correct muscles.
- Imagine you need to pass wind, squeeze your sphincter closed, again there should be no movement anywhere else. Placing your hands under your buttock and trying this sitting up may help.
- Previously it was recommended that your try to stop your urine flow to locate your pelvic floor muscles. If you are really struggling, this can be one of the easiest methods. The NHS advice is not to do this too often, as it may lead to urinary tract infections and issues with your bladder.
How Do I Know If I Am Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises the Right Way?
Manufacturers try to sell the benefits of Kegel weights by making it easier to know if you are doing pelvic floor exercises correctly. This is a clever and cynical technique as it is still possible to do pelvic floor exercises wrong even with Kegel weights. Once you have located your pelvic muscles, pelvic floor exercises are simple. There are two recommended methods, and it is a good idea to alternate between them.
- Quick pelvic floor contractions are performed by contracting your pelvic floor muscles, holding for three seconds, and then relaxing. This should be repeated ten times.
- Longer pelvic floor contractions involve contracting your pelvic floor muscles, counting to five, and then releasing them. When you can comfortably hold your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds, you should aim to build up to ten seconds.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises need to be done regularly, preferably multiple times a day. This can seem daunting at first, especially with so many other things to remember when looking after a baby. As with everything, when you get into the habit of doing them, it will become second nature.
How Soon Should I Start Pelvic Floor Exercise after Childbirth?
You should always speak with your midwife or doctor before starting pelvic floor exercises following childbirth. With natural childbirth, it is normally safe within a couple of days of the birth. But don’t worry if it’s been longer; starting pelvic floor exercises at any time (regardless of if you have recently had a baby) is strongly advised. This is because, with age, the pelvic floor muscles will usually weaken in all women.
What Are the Alternatives to Pelvic Floor Exercises?
There were previously no real alternatives to pelvic floor exercises to strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles, that was until the Emsella Chair! The Emsella Chair is a revolutionary medical device created by a pioneer in incontinence therapy. The Emsella treatment is fast, quick, and painless, and you remain dressed during the treatment. When sitting in the Emsella chair, electromagnetic technology stimulates the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscles contract at the supramaximal level, which means your brain is not regulating the contractions. This makes the Emsella treatment extremely effective, with just one treatment lasting 28 minutes, comparable to 11,200 pelvic floor contractions!
If you want to know more about the Emsella treatment, please complete the form below to book an in-depth consultation. Following your consultation, you can have a trial session in our Emsella Chair if you want to. The £50 consultation fee is redeemable against any treatment plan.
The Emsella Chair Treatment – Consultation Form.
Alternatively, please feel free to call our friendly team of incontinence specialists on 01522 523777.