If you have started ante-natal classes or already had your baby, you will know how much importance is placed on you doing your kegel exercises in order to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. But these exercises are not always easy to get right, which is where this handy new device comes in as a safe, efficient alternative, which produces amazing results.
The theory: Why do we need to do pelvic floor exercises?
The weight of your bump and the strains of birth can contribute to straining your otherwise taut pelvic floor muscles. This 'sling' of muscle not only provides essential support to your back and body movement, but also helps with bowel and bladder control.
As all of us get older, these muscles naturally slacken, so even without the pressures of weight or birth, these muscles need keeping in check.
If you click on the links above you will find instructions on how to practice your pelvic floor exercises. Doing these a few times a day helps bring back pre-birth strength. However, whilst the principle of pulling up your muscles as if trying to stop a flow of wee, do not always work. Many women simply tense their buttock muscles and don't exercise the muscles inside.
Signs of slack pelvic muscles
After the birth and for many months or years ahead, many women suffer from an inability to 'hold on' when they need to go to the loo. Or they find that when they cough, laugh or run or stretch, or when they orgasm, that they 'leak'.
Even if you do not 'wet yourself', these minor leakages are known as 'stress incontinence'.
Women tend to find this embarrassing but build their lives around dealing with it rather than going to see their GP.
In some cases, rectifying the problem requires medication or even some surgery, but the vast majority of women simply need to take up regular pelvic floor exercises. And what's great is that even if you didn't continue these exercises for very long after the birth of your child, you can take them up now.
In action: What the Athena Muscle Toner does
Getting the exercises right is not easy for everyone, plus it's easy to forget to do them. However, the Athena Muscle Toner can stimulate your body to do the exercises and the results are so stunning that you find that making time for them not only gives you 'me time' for ten to 15 minutes twice a day, but also you want to keep them up!
The Athena Muscle Toner is a small device which you tuck up into your vagina like you might a tampon. You may find you need to use something like KY jelly to lubricate it, but then you simply pop it in and then switch it on.
Small electrical charges (completely safe and less noticeable than even the pulses you may have experienced if you used a TENS for pain relief during labour.
The exercises happen without you even noticing!
You shouldn't use the Athena Fem until at least six weeks after the birth, but even if you had your baby over a year or two ago, you can take this up and see a real difference.
The results are great
Not only do you strengthen a key muscle area which helps your body strength and your back, but better toned pelvic floor muscles help with long-term bladder and bowel control, and can help tighten up those 'downstairs bits' that make sex rather more stimulating again for you and your partner.
The ThinkBaby verdict
After attending a launch meeting where television personality and well-respected GP Dr Chris Steele explained to us how the Athena Fem worked we gave it a go.
Like a TENS machine, it works from a small battery powerpack so you don't have any indiscreet or ominous cords to worry about.
It really does fit very comfortably, and takes only a minute or two to get used to.
It comes with very clear and undemanding instructions so you know you are not overdoing the exercises, and if, like me, you have got used to the muscles 'down there' through having babies, internal exams, tampons etc, you will know yourself how well you are progressing with this muscle toner.
I do Pilates, which is a wonderful form of back and body strengthening exercises for any time of life and certainly after a baby. The exercises begin every time with your core muscles and engagement of your pelvic floor, so I am well attuned to that part of my body - even if the rest of my body is in some need of exercise!
However, I still felt the benefit of this, once I got used to it, and it feels like a positive part of my well-being regime.
The Athena Muscle Exerciser is easy to use. It isn't super-cheap (RRP around £195), but is an invaluable tool to enable many women to feel more confident about the repair work they are doing to their own bodies after birth.
To see what Dr Chris Steele has to say about your pelvic floor exercises, visit www.thefamilygp.com.
For more about your muscles, whether or not the Athena Muscle Exerciser is for you or not, and for stockists or to buy online, go to www.athenafem.co.uk.