You may or may not have heard of Kegels, the pelvic floor muscle exercise made famous by gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel to reduce leaking, pelvic organ prolapse, and assist in pregnancy. Your pelvic floor muscles act during orgasm, hold in your pelvic organs, stabilize your pelvis and back, relax during toileting, sex, and childbirth, and keep you from leaking at all other times. There is some controversy over whether people should perform Kegels. Today, we will clear up some misconceptions!
Women who have just delivered a baby are worried about their child, their parenting skills, and how to take off “baby weight.” Often the soft belly that never quite looks the same again is NOT fat, it’s a split in the abdominal muscles. Medically known as diastisis recti, or for lay people “Mummy Tummy” requires specific care to heal properly. If you do hundreds of sit-ups to try to tighten the abs, the bulge will get worse, and it may not go away! I often treat women in the 50’s and 60’s who still have a diastasis recti.
Recently pregnant athletes have been in the news. From articles in Runner’s World to photos of elite British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, such as this photo on the right, we are reminded that doctors encourage pregnant women to stay active even into the third trimester. Now research presents with even more support for moms-to- be to exercise! Two recent studies show that exercise in the second and third trimesters are not only safe for normal pregnancies but can decrease the risks of gestational diabetes, high weight babies and the need for ceasarean delivery.