“You ain’t cool ‘til you pee your pants” Adam Sandler said it best in the movie Big Daddy. Incontinence. Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself scoping out the closest restrooms at a party, planning out a bathroom break before your little league star is up to bat or squeezing your legs together while you lift your toddler into the Target shopping cart then waddling into the store straight to the bathroom. Yep! That’s me! No one tells you about the trials and tribulations of a “stressed or weak” bladder or better yet, how to prepare and cope with this new found postpartum hurdle.
That’s where I come in…
Incontinence is real and way more common than many think. It’s frustrating, embarrassing and annoying to say the least, but you’re not alone! Normally, nerves, muscles, and ligaments all work together to support your bladder and hold it all in, but after pregnancy and delivery those muscles can be over stretched and overworked.
The most common types of incontinence for women after pregnancy and delivery are Stress Incontinence and Urge Incontinence. Stress Incontinence is noticing a small amount of urine leak when you sneeze, cough, or laugh. Urge Incontinence is leaking a larger amount of urine at unexpected times. Some women may notice both are an issue for them while others have just one or the other. Reasons for incontinence may include use of catheter during delivery, traumatic birth, extended pushing, assisted vaginal delivery and it can even be a genetic predisposition (so thank your mama, don’t blame the babe)!
There are multiple avenues to walk down for support and treatment. Here are a few tips and suggestions.
- Be sure to continue with your Kegels! Kegels are exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and sphincter muscles and sometimes a little toning is all you need to cure a Stress Incontinence! Anyone and everyone (with a vagina) can practice these, which means you can find treatment at any age or stage!
- Physical Therapy goes hand in hand with Kegels. A Physical Therapist is a professional experienced in showing the right exercises to aid in muscle strengthening!
- Bladder Training and Timed Voiding are easy options to do in the comfort of your home. Sounds nuts, but keep a potty journal, note any trends in leaks and go from there. A health care provider can explain the nuts and bolts of this treatment, but this is often an effective tool.
- Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, I know I know! My day consists of coffee and wine to survive too!
- Electrical Stimulation can be used to help strengthen pelvic muscles by placing electrodes in the vagina or rectum to stimulate specific areas.
- Try out different styles of pads with various absorbencies. They make some pretty thin ones these days, which can be more discrete than the “adult diapers” you’re picturing. Pads can help you feel confident when you're out and about.
- Surgery, implants and medications are further routes to check into if you’re struggling chronically.
The good news? There is help! I know it can be uncomfortable to discuss, but talk with your OB/GYN. They can point you in the right direction of care and remind you that this common frustration is only temporary.
So trust me when I say, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!