You’ve heard Kegels mentioned from time to time, but just what are these exercises, and what do they do? These invisible exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that help support your bladder, uterus, and rectum, and they are great to do both during and after pregnancy.

A strong pelvic floor can help prevent and/or treat the following:

  • Leaking a few drops of urine while coughing, exercising, laughing, or sneezing (stress urinary incontinence)
  • Strong, sudden urges to urinate (urgency urinary incontinence)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Unexpected stool leakage (fecal incontinence)
  • Pelvic organ prolapse

Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor, which is a set of muscles in the pelvic region running from the tailbone to the pubic bone like a hammock. The primary muscle of the pelvic floor is the pubococcygeus (PC), which runs along and around the openings of the urethra, vagina, and rectum. 

This layer of muscles supports the organs in the pelvis, which include the uterus, bladder, and bowel. These muscles span the base of the pelvis to keep your organs in place and strengthen the bladder and rectal sphincters, which give us conscious control over the bladder and rectum and the release of urine, feces, and flatulence.


Kegel exercises are easy to do. It’s all about squeezing and relaxing the same muscles you would use to stop a stream of urine. Get comfortable. At first, you may find it easiest to practice lying down. Later on, you’ll be able to do them lying down, standing, or even while sitting.

  • Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles, relax, and repeat

Long hold. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and hold for several seconds. Then relax for a few seconds and repeat. Initially, you may only be able to hold for one or two seconds, but over a few weeks, you’ll gradually be able to increase the hold time by a second or two until you can hold for 10 seconds.

During pregnancy, you may want to start in the second trimester, which starts at around 14 weeks pregnant.

After your baby is born, you may be able to start doing Kegels within a few days of an uncomplicated vaginal birth — just make sure you feel ready. If you had complications during vaginal birth or had a c-section, wait until the doctor gives you the all clear.

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