I’ve been asked by many of you now to shed some light on how best to help your vaginas and pelvic floors after giving birth, and as a Yoni Mapping Therapist I see a lot of clients who come to me struggling with exactly this.
So here’s the D-low, comin’ atchya from the Vagina Chronicles Blog!
So why is it important to have a healthy, happy pelvic floor?
The web of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that make up your amazing pelvic floor are important for the obvious reason that they hold up your pelvic organs so that things like your bladder or uterus don’t just straight up drop out of you!
However, on top of this, a toned and strong pelvic floor prevents you from suffering from urinary incontinence, and helps you experience more pleasurable and satisfying sex and orgasms.
So y’know, preeeeeeeetty big bonus of keeping your pelvic floor in shape (or getting it back in shape post-birth).
When should I start my Vagina Rehab?
You can start implementing these practices as soon as you feel ready after giving birth.
For instance, the pelvic floor exercises can be done a few days post-birth and should be started as soon as you feel comfortable doing them.
Doing these exercises asap, even if you can’t yet feel anything happening, will help:
Prevent and treat stress incontinence.
Improve the circulation of blood to your perineum, which will help to reduce any swelling and bruising you may have.
Rebuild strength in your pelvic floor.
How do I go about this though?!
So there are a few things you can do to begin your Vagina Rehab, and the biggest one is through pelvic floor exercises that involve strengthening and toning through deliberate contractions inside the vagina.
Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Start lying on your back, or on your side. Or you may find it easier to do your exercises in a relaxing bath to begin with.
Breathe in, and as you breathe out, gently squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try not to pull in your tummy muscles. Just focus on pulling your pelvic floor muscles up and in, as if you’re trying not to wee or “let one rip”.
Hold the squeeze for as long as you can while you continue to breathe in and out as normal. This may only be a second or two at first, and ideally you’ll build up to 5 - 10 second holds. But just do what you can!
If you’re tightening your upper tummy muscles (above your belly button) or your butt, you’re trying too hard!
We don’t want to engage any other muscles in your legs, bum, or abdomen as this will stop the Kegel exercises from working and in fact increase intra-abdominal pressure and aggravate the problem.
To make sure you’re doing them correctly, put two fingers inside your vagina, spread them slightly apart, and squeeze around the fingers. Those are the only muscles that should be contracted. Place your other hand on your belly as a reminder to keep it soft and relaxed.
If you lose control of your breathing mid-squeeze, stop, and start again. Once you can do the holds for 10 seconds, try to do five quick squeezes in a row. Quick squeezes help you to tighten the muscles when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something.
You should feel your muscles letting go at the end of each squeeze. If you don’t, you may have allowed your muscles to relax before reaching the end of your count. If this is the case, reduce the count until you can feel your muscles letting go, and build up from there.
Slowly build up to 10 squeezes for 10 seconds, followed by 10 quick squeezes, three times a day.
You may not feel much, or even anything, when doing your exercises in the first few days. But your efforts will pay off over time. It can take between six weeks and 12 weeks for your muscles to strengthen noticeably, so keep going.
Got any other tips and tricks?
Jade egg practices:
The ancient jade egg practices can be very helpful for developing dexterity, strength, flexibility, and tone inside the vagina. It involves inserting a small egg shaped crystal (usually nephrite jade) and using this weight to do pelvic floor exercises with. The vagina, like the sole of the feet, the ear, and the palm of the hand, has reflexology points that correspond to major organs. The use of the jade egg also stimulates these areas and has additional health benefits. You can learn more about these practices and techniques. From Saida Desilets, Ph.D., author of ‘Emergence of the Sensual Woman’ - a book that gives explicit instructions on how to use a jade egg.
And you can purchase beautiful ones here: https://www.yonipleasurepalace.com/?ref=freyagraf
Try to stay hydrated and eat lots of fibre to avoid constipation. Constipation puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor muscles, and stitches if you’ve got them. It’s not great news for prolapse either.
Coughing, laughing and sneezing:
When we cough, sneeze, laugh, or lift heavy things the pelvic floor cops it, and the muscles often get forced downwards from the internal pressure of those actions. It’s important to be mindful of the effect of this on the pelvic floor and squeeze the muscles up and in before/while we cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. This protects the pelvic floor and helps prevent leakage!
It’s also a good habit to get into so that it happens automatically and keeps your pelvic floor strong and ready for action.
Connecting more deeply with your vagina:
An incredible resource for this plight - if you’re unable to come and have a session with me in person! - is to go on this 3 month online journey to discover how to cultivate more pleasure, better sex, and a stronger awareness and sensitivity to your whole pelvic space. The online course is called Yoni Club, and I can highly recommend it if you want to up-level your relationship to, and mastery of your vagina!
What if my pelvic floor muscles are TOO tight or over-active though?
An overactive pelvic floor can happen when you're constantly contracting your pelvic floor muscles without realising it. This can be caused by tension due to pain or damage to your tissues. Having tears, stitches, an episiotomy, or pelvic girdle pain, can all lead to your pelvic floor muscles becoming overly tight. As can stress and anxiety - it’s a bit like clenching your jaw.
It creates more pain, and weakens the muscles.
In this case, you may want to opt for a different way of exercising the pelvic floor muscles that focuses on correcting posture and alignment to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles without the risk of creating or worsening tension in the pelvic bowl.
1. Hold on to both sides of a doorknob or pole and extend your arms--this is how far away from the door you should be for the squat. Place a rolled-up towel under your heels to keep the shins in a vertical position.
2. Move your knees back until they're aligned with your ankles to untuck your pelvis.
3. Squat down as far as you can go until your knees feel like they need to move; keep holding on to the doorknob for assistance.
4. Squeeze your glutes as you slowly lower back up to the starting position.
Aim for 5 to 10 squats to start and progress as you get stronger. You want to target your backside, not your quads; this is why untucking the pelvis and keeping the shins in a vertical position is emphasized—it transfers the bulk of the work to your glutes. As you get stronger, let go of the doorknob
And to learn to relax the muscles of your pelvic floor, relaxation techniques are helpful, such as deep abdominal breathing:
1.. Lie down in a comfortable position, free from noise and distractions. Close your eyes.
2. Start by slowly inhaling through your nose. Imagine your breath travelling down, into your belly and your belly slowly starting to rise.
3. Place your hands on your belly so you can feel this rise. Exhale and feel your belly fall. Continue this slow inhale and exhale- feeling the belly rise and fall. As you find it gets easier, try to inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 3 seconds. Do this for at least 2 minutes.
4. Now once you’ve relaxed…think about gently contracting your pelvic floor muscles on the exhale. On the inhale, completely relax the pelvic floor muscles. For as much as you pull your pelvic floor up, you need to let it go all the way back down.
Continue this for 1-2 minutes with the coordination of your breath, nice and slow.
Practice at least once/day. Other things like mindfulness, yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques can be helpful for an overactive pelvic floor, and of course, internal massage to help release tension and train the muscles, such as the kind of bodywork I do as a Yoni Mapping Therapist! This internal massage can also be done yourself with a Therawand or similar.
So there you have it, some tried and true techniques and approaches to healing your vagina post-birth! The key is consistency and patience here though, my dears. I wish you all the best, and do get in touch if you need any further support or info!