Updated: Apr 23
Your pelvic floor strength doesn't determine the ease of your birth experience.
Let that sink in for a moment. Go ahead and read it again.
Your pelvic floor strength determines your pelvic floor strength. That's it. Nothing more and nothing less. It's a tid bit of information about your body. Is having good pelvic floor strength helpful? Of course it is. The pelvic floor is supporting your uterus as you grow your baby, but its strength doesn't mean squat as a predictor of your ability to deliver your baby.
Kegels are typically thought of as contracting the muscles of your pelvic floor. This is simply closing your vagina, anus and a pulling inward movement. In short, you close the openings. Hopefully its obvious, if you're closing the openings, its not easier for your baby to come out that opening, but harder. If you're a kegel cruncher and that's become your prenatal program, you're doing yourself a disservice. If you're looking to reduce your risk of perineal tears, kegels are not the answer.
To clarify, kegels do not reduce your risk of perineal tears.
You have to broaden your horizon, literally, broaden your openings by reversing your kegel as you must do to poop. Learn how to surrender those muscles you've been leading into battle purely through up training. Learn how to let go, breath through stressful (and painful) situations and center yourself when times are tiring. This is the first step toward and easier birth and thus reducing risk of perineal tears.
The training or preparation for an easier birth cannot be learned through reading, but only through doing. Even this blog can't give you an easier childbirth. You must learn the concepts, put them into practice and set yourself up for success. Yes, your pelvic floor plays a huge role in childbirth, but honestly, its only a piece of the process.
Two other players in childbirth are your breath and belly.
As your uterus contracts to push your baby towards your vaginal opening, your breath and core can sync with them and assist. Using your breath and belly is work, but when you harmonize with your body's natural contractions, overall, its less work. Its a simple concept, but the coordination takes practice to master. Its something you can practice while pooping and see how much easier pooping becomes. Here's the toileting secret expulsion method: inhale expand through your belly like a balloon filling with air; exhale, keep your belly expanded spreading the load of force and open your bum to poo. Take that look off your face, relax the brow line and try again.
I've explained why kegels aren't what you need for birthing, but I haven't touched on the most important part of your body during childbirth which lies at the opposite pole.
It's your beautiful mind.
Your brain power affects what's happening at the vaginal opening during birth and how your uterus contracts. An important hormone that stimulates uterine contraction is produced in your brain. This means your thoughts, memories, emotions, beliefs, etc that live in your mind also affect the progression of your birth. May I repeat, you can reduce your reduce your risk of perineal tears dung childbirth through mindset work as well! This is a huge part of my online birth prep course: Below the Bump. I dive deeper into the mindset piece and give you tools that are simple and actionable so you can eliminate the barriers that block or slow labor progression.
Following a step by step framework that includes breath coordination and mindset is the simplest way to an easier birth so you can reduce your risk of perineal tears!
You see, kegels aren't what you need for childbirth (although they can help you during pregnancy...more on that another time). You need breath, coordination of the breath, body movement and mindset strategies. You don't need anything fancy, just a guide to give you the right steps to practice so when labor day comes, your body knows what to do.
Where can you grab a step by step framework already done for you? I've got you covered because I put together a roadmap for you to follow for an easier childbirth. I walk you through all the steps and am there to hold your hand and answer your questions. [link below]