Pregnancy can have all kinds of effects on your body. You’re supporting a growing life, and your body has to adjust. While there can be plenty of positives to being pregnant, many women experience aches, pains, and inconveniences too. Urinary Pregnancy Incontinence during pregnancy or after birth is a common problem. This is usually due to the weight of the baby weakening the pelvic floor muscles, as well as the strain of giving birth. Incontinence during pregnancy is often the first time many women experience this issue, and it can be tough to deal with. Being knowledgeable about the causes and how to face the problem can help you.
Incontinence During Pregnancy
Urinary incontinence is the most common type of incontinence to affect mothers, with up to 50% of childbearing women experiencing it by age 40. Experiencing it during pregnancy or after birth is extremely common. During pregnancy, the most common cause of incontinence is the pelvic floor muscles weakening due to the weight of the growing pregnancy. This can mean that you experience some urinary leakage when you cough or sneeze, laugh, exercise or move suddenly. The pelvic floor muscles help to support your uterus and play a part in controlling your bladder, which is why you can experience incontinence when they relax. The muscles also relax to prepare for delivery of the baby, so the problem is often temporary.
Urinary Incontinence After Birth
Many women also find that they experience stress incontinence after the birth of their baby. If you experienced incontinence during the pregnancy, you’re more likely to experience it after the birth too. Almost half of women have some urinary incontinence after birth, so it’s not uncommon. Some circumstances during the birth can make postnatal incontinence more likely too, such as it taking a long time to push the baby out or the use of forceps. Having an epidural can mean it’s hard to tell when you need to go to the toilet and the catheter inserted can mean it’s difficult to control your bladder. However, you should have a nurse to help you, and this should improve in the first few days after the birth.
Addressing problems with incontinence during pregnancy or after birth can be difficult to deal with. Many women find it an embarrassing subject to talk about, particularly with family and friends. However, a large number of women even are also hesitant to talk about it with a doctor, nurse or midwife. According to NCT, 38% of women are embarrassed about raising the issue with a health professional. Although it can feel uncomfortable to talk about, speaking to someone about incontinence helps you to get the advice and assistance you need.
Exercising Pelvic Floor Muscles
One of the recommended actions to take for incontinence caused by pregnancy and childbirth is to exercise the pelvic floor muscles. This helps to strengthen them to give better control over the bladder. These can be done during pregnancy, as well as afterwards. After a vaginal birth, you can perform them as soon as possible, although you might want to start gently. If you have a caesarean, or your birth involved the use of forceps or ventouse, you should wait until you no longer have a catheter and are passing urine normally.
Incontinence Products That Can Help
While pelvic floor exercises can help you to deal with incontinence during pregnancy and after birth, they won’t solve the problem right away. Sometimes, incontinence might go away within a few weeks. For others, it could be an issue that lasts months, or it can become something that affects you long-term. Managing the symptoms of incontinence can feel difficult and embarrassing. It might cause you to limit where you go and what you do, which you could already be doing anyway due to pregnancy or caring for a newborn.
To make it easier to manage a problem with incontinence, you can benefit from using a range of products. For example, many women find discreet pads that fit into their underwear to be useful. You might also want to use special underwear for extra convenience. These products can help to protect you from any leakage you might experience during everyday activities. You might also find it useful to carry wet wipes with you to help you stay fresh.
Incontinence during pregnancy and after birth is usually a temporary issue. However, finding ways to address it will help you to feel more confident and have practical solutions you can use to deal with it and treat it.