Which is the best electrical stimulation programme for new mums wanting to rehab their pelvic floor muscles? This is one of the topics Kegel8 founder, Stephanie Taylor, asked me about in some video Q & A sessions about the Kegel8 Ultra 20 machine. She is passionate about helping their customers get value and success from a purchase.
In this video:
- What to do to help your muscles from the very early days before you can use an electrical stimulation machine.
- When you can start using a electrical stimulation machine safely after birth
- Why it is important to test the sensation in the nerves, have a longer rest time between contractions and how to avoid muscle fatigue.
Watch here (or read the adapted transcript below). In this video we are discussing the electrical stimulation programmes for new mums on a machine called a Kegel8 Ultra 20 V2 Electronic Pelvic Floor Toner. Other models in the Kegel8 range are very similar. The principles are the same for all electrical stimulation machines. Even if you don’t have a Kegel8 you might find this helpful to understand how your own-brand of machine works too.
Q: Stephanie asked me: “We’ve got lots of programmes on the Kegel8. I’m a new mum. Which programme is going to be best for me – if I’m looking to get back in shape – what’s your recommendation?”
The first few weeks: simply connect your brain and pelvic floor naturally
Let’s start by thinking about a very new mum. You’ve had a baby and you are starting out with your exercising. In the first 12 weeks the body is very fragile and very vulnerable. We do want you to start exercising but we don’t encourage the use of electrical equipment in this early phase. Why? Partly because you will still have some bleeding, you might also have some hidden raw wounds but also because it is a fragile vulnerable time.
What you do need to be doing in those early days is using your muscles as best as you can. Using your own brain to to activate them. Even if all you are doing is pulsing your muscles a tiny bit and you think “Is it worth it?”. It IS. Because that pulsing action will bring blood flow close to the area. Blood flow helps healing. And helps to get healthy tissues again. In your head it will feel like little tiny pulses, not very exciting. Everything might feel swollen and engorged. But those tiny exercises are a really important thing to do. Little and often through the day. To keep your brain and your pelvic floor connected together and encourage these muscles to start working again.
From 6-8 weeks: feeling proper contractions
About 4-6 weeks you should be feeling that you have some proper pelvic floor contractions. They should feel useful to you. For example, when you want to cough and sneeze and pick up your baby. It’s all a bit mad that nature delivers through the muscles that you need and then hands you a heavy baby to look after. Not quite how you or I would have designed it. But that is the reality. So we’ve got to get these muscles working.
From 12 weeks: why you might choose to use an electrical stimulation programme?
After 12 weeks there are other options to consider.
- If you are not getting enough sense of being able to exercise your muscles yourself
- Or you don’t feel that you are getting a pelvic floor muscle contraction.
- Or you don’t feel that you are progressing.
Then you might like to use a machine to help you.
What is special about the electrical stimulation programmes for new mums?
Some programmes on the Kegel8 V2 Ultra 20 are designed specially for postnatal mums. For example programmes 14 & 15. What makes them different?
A sensory phase
The first phase of these programmes is actually a circulation phase, a very low frequency current, to create just a tingling sensation for about 10-15 mins. This allows you to test whether you can actually feel anything. A problem that can affect new mums is finding that the nerves aren’t working properly at all and you can’t feel things properly. It wouldn’t be safe to use a machine if you couldn’t feel properly as you would have no way of knowing how high to turn it up which could be sore. So the first phase allows you to test for what you can feel. This phase is also really good for circulation. It brings blood flow to the area and oxygen to the tissues.
A muscle strengthening phase
Later in the programme it moves to a muscle strengthening phase. It actually makes the muscles tighten and release. But different to the one that is listed for stress incontinence, this phase has a longer rest time between the contractions. When we make muscles contract they do need to be able to relax completely between contractions before we ask them to contract again.
A longer rest time
When your muscles are very weak it is important to have almost twice as long resting to working. As you get stronger you can choose a programme where there are shorter rest times but when you are very new post delivery it is really important to have a rest phase.
An overall shorter programme
The overall working in this programme is 15-20 mins maximum, because your muscles will fatigue easily. Tired muscles can’t do anything. Yet you’ve got to look after the baby! So it’s really important that the machine doesn’t made you so tired that you can’t look after your baby and hold your body up!
So that is the idea behind this programme being called a postnatal programme
Q: How often would you recommend using an electrical stimulation programme for new mums?
The manufacturers say that you can use these devices up to twice a day every day. I think a lot of women feel that is an unrealistic goal. We tend to start women out in clinic using their device once every other day. As a starting place. You don’t want to put yourself off. These are plastic gadgets in in very delicate places! If you do too much too quick you end up not wanting to do anything.
So I tend to aim to underachieve at first. Use it for 20 minutes every other day. Then if that is going well, and you are liking it and you feel it is beneficial, you could go to every day. And if you were blessed with time to do twice a day that would be a bonus. I am not sure that is very many mums?! We find people get good results on every other day or once every day.
Feeling more confident how to choose an electrical stimulation programme as a new mum?
I hope this post has given you more confidence to get started with a Kegel8 Ultra 20 stimulation machine or something similar? We have made several other videos about using stimulation machines. For other conditions, for example for a prolapse, for an overactive bladder or for stress incontinence. We also do a Q&A to show the different types of probes available.
Another series is all about the pelvic floor and how to do exercises without a machine too!
Please don’t hesitate to email if you have questions and I will do my best to help. Please do comment below or on YouTube if you found these helpful.