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Strengthen The Pelvic Floor Without Kegels

By July 16, 20156 Comments

Strengthen The Pelvic Floor Without Kegels

strengthen the pelvic floor without kegels

What pregnant or post-baby mama doesn’t worry about their pelvic floor? Those sudden sneezes that make you need to clench up and cross your legs…they don’t have to be part of your life! Yes, the stressed or weakened pelvic floor is the culprit behind those “oops” moments. We all know that Kegels are usually a fabulous idea to strengthen this important muscle group. But what if you want to strengthen the pelvic floor without Kegels?

Look no further! We have the answers for you. Our resident nutrition and pregnancy exercise expert, Katie Dudley, has put together this amazing pelvic floor workout for you- and it doesn’t even involve doing a Kegel. These exercises are great for any time of your life. Try them out and notice the difference they make in your overall feelings of health and wellness, not to mention, less worry about trampolines.

As with all exercise programs, consult your care provider before embarking and listen to your body. Safety first!


Draw In

Draw in is a simple yet helpful exercise for your core. While lying on the floor and with a neutral spine, draw the abdominals in and hold 2 seconds. Repeat 12-15 times. (Our model in this picture, Katie, is pregnant and so you can see the obvious difference between relaxed and drawn in.)

Draw in exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor

Floor Bridge for your Pelvic Floor

The floor bridge is a great glute exercise for most anyone and can be altered in various ways in order to emphasize certain areas. Our thigh master floor bridge helps target and strengthen the pelvic floor without even having to do a conscious Kegel.

Lying on your back with your knees bent, place a rolled towel or ball in between the knees. Lift your bottom up off the floor while squeezing your knees together. Repeat approximately 20 times or to your own comfort level.

floor bridge- exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor

Wall Pose for your Pelvic Floor

The wall pose is fairly simple, but can also be a great way to engage your pelvic floor without Kegels and it also incorporates other muscles. From the “V” position shown first, bring your legs together to the straight up position in the second picture. Practice the wall pose approximately 10 times, gently letting your legs fall back into a “V” each time.

The wall pose can help relax your legs and low back and some believe it can help with feelings of anxiety and stress. Some find a bolster under the hips to be helpful or even a rolled support under the neck.

Wall Pose- strengthen the pelvic floor

Wall Pose strengthen your pelvic floor

Seated Pelvic Rocking

Seated safely on an appropriately sized birth or exercise ball, seated pelvic rocking is a great pregnancy exercise that can help target and strengthen the pelvic floor without Kegels. Seated on your ball, gently rock your hips forward and back, clockwise and counterclockwise for about 20 reps.  

This is a nice alternative or addition to pelvic rocking during pregnancy with many of the same benefits. Plus, those birth balls come in handy during labor and after the birth for comforting fussy babies.

seated pelvic rocking- strengthen the pelvic floor

Pelvic rocking

Butterfly Stretch

The lying butterfly stretch can help stretch out the thighs and hip flexors while at the same time strengthening your pelvic floor without Kegels.

Hold for 1-2 minutes or to comfort, being careful of being on your back if you are pregnant.

lying butterfly stretch strengthen the pelvic floor

Body Weight Squat

The squat is an essential strengthening exercise for any time of life, but can be particularly helpful when preparing for birth. Many who don’t care for Kegels recommend the squat as an alternative. While we are still big fans of the Kegel, we have always encouraged pregnant women to incorporate both into their birth preparation workouts.

With your feet shoulder width apart, squat deep and repeat about 20 times. Squatting should ideally be done with feet flat on the floor. It has many benefits and strengthens the quadriceps as well as producing mobility in the hips.

The squat is also widely recommended as a birthing position and preparing early can help with ease, flexibility and strength. The deep birth squat is on our list of exercises for a great birth.

body weight squat to strengthen pelvic floor

squat, side view

Bird Dog

The bird dog can improve core strength and stability and is another great functional and therapeutic exercise. Starting on hands and knees with hands directly under the shoulders and knees hip width apart, bring out opposing hand and foot at the same time.

You can alternate sides for a total of about 20 reps, depending on your fitness level. Be sure to have your leg, body and arm in a straight line when extended and bring your leg and arm back down slowly and with control. For women who have diastasis, positions like the bird dog are not advisable.

Bird dog strengthen the pelvic floor

Downward Dog

Downward Dog is a common yoga move that works everything from your shoulders to your arms while at the same time being a fabulous stretch. There is some debate about how safe the downward dog is during pregnancy, but if it is already part of your exercise pre-pregnancy, many believe it is safe during your second and third trimesters. As with any exercise, listen to your body and your care provider when adding something to your regimen.

Your spine should be straight from the tailbone to the top of your head and your legs also should be straight. Adjust the length of your downward dog to our own comfort.

downward dog to strengthen pelvic floor

Pigeon Pose

The Pigeon Pose is a great stretch, especially for runners, and also helps strengthen the pelvic floor without Kegels. Try doing 1-2 minutes on each side. This exercise can offer an incredible release through the hips. For more details on proper pigeon pose positioning, check out this post.

If you notice you are tight, foam rolling can be an excellent way to help work out tension throughout the body. Detailed foam rolling techniques are worked into our weekly 10 week childbirth education classes, and you can read more information about foam rolling for pregnancy, here.

pigeon pose to strengthen pelvic floor

Goddess Pose

The goddess pose stretches the hips and thighs while strengthening core muscles and quadriceps. Goddess pose is also considered good preparation for childbirth.

With your feet wide and at a 45 degree angle, drop your bottom down to knee level. You can repeat this for 10 to 12 reps.

goddess pose to strengthen pelvic floor


There is so much we can do to strengthen our pelvic floor and the rest of our body to achieve optimal health. Having a strong pelvic floor is about more than just the Kegel. These 1o exercises can add stability, increase strength, and even reduce pain. Yes, you can strengthen the pelvic floor without Kegels!

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8 years ago

Is it possible to get this post/article in a print/flyer/handout format to give to prenatal clients for their reference? It would be a great resource for midwives to put in their information packets, and I would love it!

Gemma Parsons
Gemma Parsons
7 years ago

Hi there, I am the volunteer newsletter creater for the Morrinsville Parents Centre here in NZ. I am looking for something to put in the newsletter about pelvic floor exercises and the importance for soon to be mums and mums. Do you mind if i use some of you information/photos from here aslong as i put your name/link underneath them?

7 years ago

I’m a bit confused, I’m pregnant and have always been cautioned never to lie flat on my back (I’m 32 weeks). It seems like I can’t do a few of these exercises safely.

Katie Dudley
Katie Dudley
7 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Most of the back lying exercises are safe for short periods of time unless you feel dizzy, nauseous, or uncomfortable. Also many of the exercises can be modified for this purpose. The draw ins can be practiced standing against a wall. Floor bridges may be done on an exercise ball. Wall pose can be modified into a sitting position as well with a neutral posture.