Many of you may have noticed that after you gave birth, you started to, for lack of better wording, pee in your pants! Well, you'll be happy to know that this is a very common occurrence during and following pregnancy, with as many as 4 in 10 women experiencing this urinary incontinence, or involuntary loss of urine. Despite the high number of people that experience incontinence post birth, I hear from many new moms all the time who feel shame or embarrassment about this change in their bodies.
I believe this is because of a lack of information and conversation about incontinence. Many of you mamas assume that this is an issue with no easy solutions. Truthfully, incontinence is not only very common, but also responds to a number of noninvasive treatment options that can greatly improve or eliminate your "pee in the pants" symptoms.
While there are several kinds of urinary incontinence, most women experience stress incontinence. Laughing, coughing, sneezing, jumping (um, like me at sky zone on the trampoline.. right in my pants! It happens to the best of 'em!) and
other activities can put extra pressure on the bladder sphincter, the muscular valve at the bottom of the bladder that controls urine flow. The pressure that these activities cause can lead to urine leakage, or stress incontinence.
What causes postpartum incontinence?
Giving birth can be extremely tough on the body and can change your urinary control abilities. During pregnancy, that heavy uterus can weaken the strength of a woman’s pelvic floor muscles and cause urine to leak.
Giving birth can also affect those same muscles. Symptoms of incontinence may persist even after delivery. Hormones, genetics and other lifestyle factors, like smoking, can also make it more likely that a woman will experience incontinence after childbirth.
Sorry to break the news ladies, but leakage also becomes more common with subsequent pregnancies. Each pregnancy puts a bit more strain on the pelvic muscles. No matter the cause, I'm telling you it's not your fault. It's nothing you did wrong and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
You can also try doing some strengthening exercises at home. "A lot of women are familiar with Kegels, which are the best exercises to improve the strength of the pelvic floor. If you don't come to All Generations Women's Care(you really should give it a try), any ob/gyn should be able to explain to you how to do them correctly, but you can also Google it.
How to do Kegels properly: \
Try to stop yourself from peeing midstream. The muscles you use to clench and stop the flow of urine are the muscles you want to use. . Clench and hold as long as you can, and then relax. And then do it again. Or, you ca n sit in the upright position, sit comfortably with your feet and knees wide apart. If preferred, you can also lie down flat with your legs slightly apart. Remember to keep breathing throughout and keep your stomach, leg, and buttock muscles relaxed.
Squeeze the muscles around your tush and vagina as if you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas from the bowel and at the same time trying to stop the flow of urine from the bladder. You should feel a lifting and then sit in the upright position, sit comfortably with your feet and knees wide apart. You can also lie down flat with your legs slightly apart. Remember to keep breathing throughout and keep your stomach, leg, and buttock muscles relaxed.
If you’re experiencing bladder control issues after pregnancy, make an appointment and we can discuss your issues and concerns. You should never be ashamed or embarrassed to discuss issues with your doctor.
Dr. Amy Gerhardt
All Generations Women's Care