By Riva Preil
Some of my patients have expressed concern over the concept of having strong pelvic floor muscles, especially in regard to pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Understandably, they wonder, “Will having strong pelvic floor muscles interfere with my ability to endure labor and delivery?” Recent research performed at Norwegian School of Sports Sciences (and published in International Urogynecology Journal, June 8 3013) reveals that the answer to their question is NO.
The prospective study measured the vaginal resting pressure of 300 women mid-pregnancy during their first pregnancy with a high precision pressure transducer attached to a vaginal balloon. The only significant difference noted between women with higher vs. lower resting pressures was the duration of second stage labor, the time of complete cervix dilation until expulsion of the baby. Women with higher resting tones had longer second stage labor on average; however method of delivery (vaginal vs. caesarian section), frequency of perineal tears, or necessity of using instruments (ex. forceps or vacuum) were NOT affected. Furthermore, pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance were NOT correlated with prolonged second stage labor or any other delivery outcome. So Kegel your pelvic floor to your heart’s content, because it will not complicate or prolong your childbirth experience.