What is urinary incontinence?
Many women experience urine leakage, which is also known as urinary incontinence, during pregnancy or after giving birth. This is the involuntary loss of urine and can affect everybody differently. For some pregnant women, it may be mild and infrequent, but others can experience more severe and longer lasting symptoms. The NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence, and it is estimated that nearly 7 million women suffer in silence with urinary incontinence and struggle to maintain a normal post-natal active lifestyle.
What causes urinary incontinence in new mums?
After childbirth, many new mums may suffer from urinary incontinence which is caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles. These muscles surround the bladder and support the weight of the uterus, however during pregnancy the muscles relax and as a result, they become weaker due to the weight of the baby. The added pressure can make you feel the urge to urinate more frequently, especially when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or take part in any physical activities that may put stress on the pelvic floor muscles. This occurrence is known as stress incontinence. Although this may only be temporary and often last a few weeks after the baby is born, it can have a lasting effect on some women which can become concerning.
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are generally the best way to prevent stress incontinence. Making a habit of squeezing your pelvic floor muscles when the urge to urinate becomes strong is an essential way to control leaking urine. The most important factor to remember is to be consistent and perform these exercises regularly. It is argued that in the UK, new mums are not provided with required resources, with a shortfall of support in terms of physiotherapy and performing the wrong exercises, in fact many people are unaware of their pelvic floor muscles and may not be focusing on the proper muscles. In most cases, when new mums leave the childbirth centre or hospital, they are only provided with leaflets on the issue.
Foods to avoid
It is also worth noting that some foods and fluids can also irritate the bladder, which can cause or aggravate incontinence. If symptoms are related to diet, you should avoid highly acidic or spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks. If problems return when you resume your normal diet, then diet is a factor in your incontinence. Concentrating on the right diet should bring significant relief after 10 days, and it is crucial that as foods are gradually added back into your diet, you maintain a significant water intake.
Incontinence products can make life much easier for new mums, providing you with the freedom to go out and enjoy life without having to worry about leakage. These products range from pads and pants, bed and chair protection, specially adapted clothing and more.
The most popular choice are pads that are worn inside your underwear – you can see our wide range of products here. It is important to avoid sanitary pads as they do not have the same technology as an incontinence pad, meaning they stay damp and can cause irritation to the skin.
If you are currently suffering with urinary incontinence, don’t suffer in silence. If you have any questions or advice on our products, contact us today.