Pregnancy and childbirth can be particularly hard on your pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy stretches the tissues and muscles that support the pelvic floor. Pregnancy hormones coupled with the weight of your growing baby puts pressure on your uterus, womb, the bowel and the bladder. With a third of women dealing with the issue of not being able to control their bladder after delivery, urinary incontinence is more common than you think.
Why Can’t I Control My Urine After Delivery?
Now that your pelvic floor has been rendered weak owing to pregnancy and childbirth, it will be difficult for you to exercise control on the muscles and sphincters at the bottom of your bladder so as to keep the urethra closed so that urine does not leak out. When you sneeze, cough, laugh or lift something heavy, pressure builds on the bladder and the nerves and ligaments that control the urethra are unable to stop the urine leakage due overstretching of injury in the pelvic floor. After delivery, as the uterus contracts, it sits just above the bladder, making it even harder to control leaking wee. This makes women leak a few drops, or sometimes the entire bladder in one go.
Who Is At More Risk To Develop Urinary Incontinence After Birth?
Having a vaginal birth makes you more susceptible to suffer from urinary continence after childbirth. Though it has been found that women who avoided labor altogether and had planned C-sections also complained of losing bladder control, the numbers are still lesser than the women who delivered naturally. Having an assisted vaginal birth or if you have an injury can also make you prone to stress incontinence. Some studies also indicate that women who have a prolonged pushing stage may also have stress incontinence. Having a large baby can also be another factor. Urinary incontinence is also higher for mothers who have had many children, and obesity and smoking also puts you at a higher risk of having urinary incontinence.
How Long Will Urinary Incontinence Last After Childbirth?
There is no definite answer for this one. For some women, wee leakage may stop within a few weeks after delivery, while for others it may linger for a few months or even longer. In some cases, it becomes a long term problem. It is important to mention it to your doctor when you go for your post-natal check-ups. Urinary incontinence is not a by-product of having a child, so seeking medicinal support is a definite ‘yes’.
How Can I Regain Control Of My Bladder After Delivery?
It will take some work, but it will be surely helpful.
- Kegels. Kegels. Kegels. 3 sets of 30 Kegels everyday for three months, after which it may just become second nature to do them
- Develop a sensible pregnancy weight loss plan, all that you have on your body puts extra pressure on your bladder
- Constipation should be avoided with a balanced diet and light exercises. Eat high fiber foods and maintain healthy bowels. This will ease pressure on the bladder
- Train your bladder by starting to use the loo every 30 minutes at first and then increasing the intervals
- Dehydration should be kept at a bay by drinking at-least 8 glasses of water or fluids everyday
- Avoid caffeine, which is a diuretic, as well as alcohol, which can again dehydrate you. Smoking is also a huge no
- You can use sanitary pads to avoid getting wet, but tampons should be avoided during the entire post-partum period
- When the urge to sneeze, cough, laugh strikes, start Kegels or cross your legs to stop wee leakage
- Also get yourself checked for a urinary tract infection, especially it burns or pains when you pee
- If nothing helps, your doctor may refer to a physiotherapist. In rare cases, a surgery may be needed
Continue to do Kegels even after you feel you have started to regain your bladder control. If you stop suddenly, you may find that your problem has returned. Pelvic floor exercises will also help heal your bruises and stitches, and aid in quicker recovery. You can start as soon as you feel fit for them.
Above all, maintain your confidence and do not get distressed if you leak sometimes. Your body has been through a huge experience and it will be some time before it starts functioning as usual. Rest a lot, eat a healthy and balanced diet and try to get some exercise. Your incredible journey as a mother has just begin, do not let these small issues bother you way too much.