I've never heard any conflicting info about them! I'm really curious to know what the negative viewpoint could be.
My personal experience is that my midwife told me they are one of the best things you can do to prevent tearing during birth. So I did them all the time like a crazy lady throughout pregnancy (and in general in between pregnancies) and had no tearing with my first or second babies. I'm pregnant with my third now, doing lots of kegels, and hoping for the same outcome. I've also (gratefully) never experienced the pee-when-you-sneeze phenomenon, which is fairly common after a baby or two. I attribute all of that to my kegel habit. But who knows, might be luck of the draw?
I've also been told to do them - and have never heard of negative reasons for doing them. I'm not 100% sold that they help anything, but I figure it doesn't hurt. This pregnancy I've been feeling more pressure (especially after sex) on my cervix and both my primary and secondary midwives have suggested doing more kegels to help strengthen my pelvic floor.
Go read everything Katy Bowman has ever written about pelvic floor health, and you'll find that kegels are not all they're cracked up to be. There are other exercises that she recommends to help the pelvic floor: calf stretches, hamstring stretches, squats... all help move the pelvis into proper alignment and decrease the constant tension created by shortened muscles.
I definitely recommend squats over kegels, they are way better for pelvic floor health.
http://slowmama.com/health-wellness/dont-know-squat-about-pfd/attachment/img_9114-2/ Pretty much like this is what I did/do. If you can't squat very easily (especially while pregnant), use a chair or something to help support you. Birthing balls are great, I sat and rocked on mine all the time!
I agree, squats over kegels.
I would also recommend finding a Feldenkrais specialist. There are really awesome, simple, gentle Feldenkrais exercises to work the pelvic floor without the annoyance of sitting around counting kegels. These exercises also help any pelvic, hip, lower back pain.
You might check out http://pregnantpauses.us . Being outside the US, I'm still waiting for the downloads to become available, but I had great experience with his Uncommon Sensing program. Alan Questl is also available on Facebook and will actually answer your questions, which is great. If the downloads never come available I will just keep using...
Deborah Bowes http://www.learningforhealth.com/bios.cfm program. Hers is called Pelvic Health and Awareness that is 3 CDs and fantastic.
Not a fan of Lavinia Plonka, but that is just me. She, too, has a pelvic floor program. It would likely be the cheapest if anyone were trying to save $.
Reviving this up a little. I know I am aging and all but with this last pregnancy where I have been doing kegels much like my first PG I seem to be in danger of losing my bladder while sneezing / coughing more often rather than less often. Not sure why this would be the case if I am "strengthening" that muscle?!
I didn't do kegels much during my second pregnancy and never lost my bladder, not even close. :)
From what I've read/been taught (bodyworker and yoga teacher)~ kegels if done alone can tighten the hammock the stretches from the pubic bone to the sacrum, drawing the sacrum in and reducing the natural lordotic curve in the lower back over time. there is only so far that the sacrum can tuck inwards this way and over time if you keep tightening and tightening the PC muscles, you'll create a hammock and then have overtonic pelvic floor muscles and a misaligned pelvis. From personal experience and training I really think doing squats (not traditional up and down exercise squats, though those are good too) but hanging out in malasana- the yogic squat pose with your toes pointed slightly out, chest up, and in yoga you'd put your hands together and use your elbows to hold your knees out, but you can also put your hands on the floor or a chair or a wall in front of you, or squat with your back against a wall for support if it's hard to do while pregnant. Then- once you're in the squat, don't just sink into it and let your muscles totally relax-- keep your feet firm and grounded, keep your butt poking out to keep a lower back curve, and then draw your PC muscles up and in-- which is the illusive "mula bandha" in yoga. Kegels if done right will also feel like an up and in movement, but I think it's hard to isolate it that way- in a squat, with the muscles stretched and lifted and open, it's a little easier to imagine an energetic drawing up and in. I'm going to write a blog post/youtube video about this either today or later today for more info I think. I've gone to a couple prenatal yoga classes with teachers I know are very well trained (and have had babies!!) and this is also how they described maintaining pelvic floor health during pregnancy and toning it afterwards. It's a balance between gluteal strength from squatting, and actual PC muscle strength.
My understanding is that you want to balance out the tightening kegels give you with the stretching deep relaxed squatting gives you. I think the importance of being able to relax those muscles had been previously lost on the medical community.