Is it worth buying keep-fit gear for your pelvic floor after you’ve given birth?
Things are never quite the same downstairs after labour. Squeezing out a 7lb 15oz baby hasn’t left me completely incontinent but it can still sometimes feel that way.
Twelve months on, things are definitely not yet running to such a tight schedule down below as they once did...
And don’t even get me started on the fear of sneezing
For instance, when you do any kind of physical activity and worry you might be leaking. And when you desperately need the loo and just get there in time, no seconds – or embarrassment – spared. And don’t even get me started on the fear of sneezing. Forget yummy mummy, more runny mummy.
Post-birth, I confess that I soon gave up doing my pelvic floor exercises, just as I did during pregnancy. It’s something you simply forget to do. But this problem isn’t going to magically go away on its own, so I decided to enlist a helping hand to regain some strength and control down there.
The Kegel8 Tight & Tone arrived in a lovely little box – my mum thought I’d ordered some designer shoes for my baby. But inside was a teardrop-shaped probe which you insert into your vagina and wire up to a high-tech battery box.
To be honest, I was more than a little daunted by the prospect of using it
It comes with lube to aid the probe’s insertion and a cleaning spray for before and after use. The instruction leaflet is a dictionary-sized manual that I passed onto my partner to read, much to his amusement. With different programmes and settings, from general pelvic floor exercises to new-mum workouts, you can choose the one appropriate for you. I tried the general workout, and hated it. It was just, well, ‘ugh!’.
I found the Kegel8 highly uncomfortable and the sensations extremely unpleasant. I know it’s not supposed to be enjoyable but I didn’t anticipate wanting to remove the thing immediately. My partner whipped it out to stop my complaining. It was entirely our fault that we didn’t turn it off before removing it, but ‘ouch!’.
I did give it another go. Honestly, I did. But I hated the pulsating feelings and it made me feel tense. The programmes last between 20 minutes to an hour, which seems excessive to me. Was I supposed to be using it while watching EastEnders in the front room?
So I went back to basics. At the opposite end of the tech spectrum, and second up, so to speak, was the PelvicToner. It’s a simple, battery-free instrument that looks a bit like a pair of hair straighteners. Inside are two metal springs which can be adjusted to alter the level of resistance.
Following the succinct and easy-to-understand leaflet, I did the required 10-minute sets of repetitions of the pelvic floor exercises. Squeezing the springs together, I could definitely feel my pelvic floor muscles working.
I do feel like my
department has been to the gym
Now, after two weeks of diligent exercising, I do feel like my downstairs department has been to the gym and done a good workout. I feel stronger and better for it. I can even run for a bus, although I’m not ready for that trampoline yet.
And I can tell you that a well-exercised pelvic floor definitely improves your sex life. Which is a huge bonus, as I was starting to forget what one of those was!
Toning up your pelvic floor
I preferred the PelvicToner (£31.99, or available on NHS prescription, pelvictoner.co.uk) over the Kegel8 Tight & Tone Electronic Pelvic Toner (£98.99, kegel8.co.uk).
The product claims to make your exercises more effective, but I think I just need to do the exercises in the first place. However, it was a useful reminder to do just that, as it lay there on the dressing table looking like an innocent set of hair straighteners when really it had a quite different use!
To perform a pelvic floor exercise with or without an exerciser, squeeze and release the muscles you would normally use to stop a flow of urine. Repeat 10 times. Gradually increase the number of squeezes and the length of time you hold each for.