Pregnancy and motherhood change your body in so, so, so many ways! We get that! Here’s one way your body may change that many new mums face but few talk about: bladder leaks. Find out why incontinence after childbirth happens and how you can manage it in healthy ways so your focus is exactly where it should be — on your little one.
How Pregnancy Can Cause Incontinence
Incontinence after childbirth will often improve in the first six months as your body heals. Until then, you may feel a bit baffled by this new reality. We’re here to help you make sense of it all.
First of all, here are some factors that may add to your risk of experiencing weakened bladder control after pregnancy:
- Having your first baby
- Delivering a large baby
- Experiencing a long labour or a difficult vaginal delivery
- Having a C-section
There are two main types of incontinence after birth that you may develop: stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence occurs when your pelvic floor – the system of muscles, ligaments, and tissue that supports your bladder and uterus – becomes weakened. As a result, any extra pressure on your pelvic floor makes it give way, causing a small amount of urine to leak from your bladder. This means that things like laughing, sneezing, coughing or lifting may result in a bladder leak.
During your pregnancy, the weight of carrying your baby can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. Then, during labour, your birth canal stretches to let your newborn through. As it stretches, your pelvic floor muscles stretch out too. A weakened pelvic floor can weaken your bladder control.
Did you have a Caesarean section? Some might think that a C-section can eliminate the impacts of labour on the pelvic floor. Actually, the weight of carrying your baby through your pregnancy can also weaken your pelvic muscles. So, even if you have had a C-section, you may still experience a sensitive bladder.
Urge incontinence – also known as having an overactive bladder – is a result of damage to the nerves surrounding the bladder and the pelvic floor, most often as a result of pelvic surgery, such as a C-section. The damaged nerves cause your bladder to spasm, creating frequent and strong urges to urinate. You may or may not make it to the toilet on time. This can happen even if your bladder is empty.
Symptoms of Post-pregnancy Incontinence
If you have weak pelvic floor muscles that cause stress incontinence, you may leak urine when you:
If you have weakened bladder control after pregnancy due to urge incontinence, you will:
- Urinate more than 8 times a day
- Wake up in the middle of the night 2 times or more to urinate
- Feel sudden, strong, and frequent urges to urinate
What Can I do about Incontinence After Birth?
Stress Incontinence Remedies:
Treating stress incontinence is as simple as giving your pelvic floor some extra loving care so you can return to your pre-mummy bladder control. Here’s how.
Regular Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor muscle training, will speed up the process of getting your strength and control back quickly after birth. Also, remember that any "pushing down" action in the first weeks after labour may stress or further stretch your pelvic floor. Protect those muscles by following these tips:
- Squeeze, lift and hold your pelvic floor muscles before you sneeze, cough, blow your nose or lift an object
- Cross your legs and squeeze tightly together before coughing or sneezing
- Do not lift heavy loads
- Avoid exercises that make your pelvic area feel strained
- Shed some extra pounds to take pressure off the pelvic floor
If your sensitive bladder doesn’t improve after six months, talk to your doctor. He or she can help try new ideas for treatment or explore other possible causes of the urinary incontinence you’re experiencing.
Urge incontinence treatments and remedies:
Staying on a bathroom schedule can serve to alleviate some of the urgency associated with having an overactive bladder. In addition, there are some straightforward lifestyle changes that can help you regain bladder control after pregnancy.
- Adopt a bladder-friendly diet
- Empty the bladder twice in one toilet visit – wait 30 seconds after you first urinate and then pass urine again to make sure your bladder is completely empty
- Stay hydrated
- Talk to your doctor about medication
No matter what kind of urinary incontinence you experience, take care of bladder leaks as they happen by wearing light incontinence protection that’s specifically designed for urinary incontinence. ALWAYS DISCREET incontinence liners and pads are a perfect fit. ALWAYS DISCREET liners have a thin and flexible design and feature exclusive technology that helps to neutralise urine odours. For additional leakage, try our ALWAYS DISCREET incontinence pads. They are up to 45% thinner* and yet absorb 2x more than you may need.**
*than the leading brand
**based on average U.S. consumer usage