It’s common for women to experience incontinence, or the involuntary leakage of urine, during pregnancy. This is due to the added stress that is being applied on their bladder. But after pregnancy – notably if the child is delivered vaginally – such incontinence issues have a tendency to persist due to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles during childbirth. Incontinence after pregnancy can also persist due to the following conditions:
- Nerve damage around the bladder.
- Shifting or movement of the urethra or bladder during pregnancy.
- An episiotomy, or incision in the pelvic floor muscle during delivery to allow the baby to exit easier.
However, it’s worth noting that while urinary incontinence can persist for several weeks to months following childbirth, it’s often something that women outgrow over time as the body heals. To accelerate the recovery process and kick incontinence symptoms, there are several things women can do. Here’s a look:
There are several things that women can do to help their bladder muscles recover after childbirth:
- Behavioral: Timing and charting your bathroom breaks and when you leak urine can help you understand patterns of incontinence, thereby allowing you to formulate a schedule to abide by to minimize urine leakage. This type of treatment can be done around the house and is typically best for women with mild incontinence.
- Bladder training: This involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom breaks as a means of training the bladder to hold in urine longer.
- Kegel exercises: These types of exercises help strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region, thereby improving the rectal sphincter and urethra, which stop unintentional leakage. These can be completed by simply relaxing the abdomen, thigh and buttocks and then rapidly tightening them, while counting to 10. For best results, perform such exercises in various reps three times a day until symptoms are resolved.
Another way to cope with incontinence after pregnancy is by acquiring the proper products to manage urinary incontinence as you’re working to resolve the problem. For women with mild to moderate incontinence, two products are proven to be particularly helpful. They are:
- Incontinence briefs: This is essentially incontinence underwear, in that it absorbs urine leakage but is as discreet as any ordinary pair of underwear. Incontinence briefs can be re-washed and reused as well.
- Incontinence pads: For mild incontinence symptoms, these pads are inserted into the underwear and absorb urine leakage. After they’re used, they can simply be thrown out and replaced for a fresh one. They’re discreet, convenient and effective.
So if you’re experiencing incontinence after childbirth, don’t anticipate living with it for the rest of your life. Just take the proper measures to manage it and correct it as your body heals.