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There’s a lot of information about pregnancy and caring for a new baby and you’re likely to find that everyone’s keen to give you advice. But a topic which attracts less conversation is incontinence e.g. loss of bladder or bowel control. Leaking wee is more common than leaking poo, though generally the cause comes down to the same issue – loss of tone in the pelvic floor muscles.
Women who experience incontinence often feel miserable, especially when it impacts on being able to socialise. Planning outings based on the availability of toilets is not much fun; neither is managing the hygiene issues of feeling constantly wet and needing to change underwear multiple times a day. But incontinence can be successfully managed and treated and is not a condition which women just need to learn to live with.
Read on to understand more about incontinence and what you can do to retain your bladder function
Peezing is the involuntary leakage of urine (wee) from the bladder. Peezing is a symptom of Stress Incontinence and mainly peeing at the time of sneezing. Although it can happen during any time of movement like coughing, jumping or running. It’s more common when there’s an increase in pressure on the muscles which support the pelvic floor.
Generally, incontinence can be divided into three types:
Stress – when laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting or jumping.
Urge – having trouble holding on after a sudden urge to wee.
Mixed – a combination of both.
As your baby grows, their weight will put added pressure on your bladder which sits underneath your uterus. Most women find incontinence gets worse as their tummy gets bigger and they’re closer to their due date. With age and more pregnancies, the pelvic floor muscles become weaker unless pelvic floor exercises are done. It’s important to do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and to continue after the baby is born.
It’s estimated that urinary incontinence affects two out of three pregnant women and one in three women who’ve had a baby. Studies have shown that around 40% of women with urinary incontinence during pregnancy think that it will improve spontaneously after their baby is born. Though the risks of it continuing are high, depending on how severe their incontinence has been when pregnant.
Generally, bladder (and bowel) problems shortly after birth improve in the first six months. This is due to healing of the pelvic floor and the organs and muscles recovering.
It’s worth remembering that pelvic floor exercises help to reduce the risk of both bladder and bowel control problems occurring during pregnancy and after birth.
Some women have issues with incontinence even before they conceive. Being overweight or having damage to their pelvic floor increases the risk of bladder control issues. Though, generally, pregnancy is the first time most women will experience incontinence. Pregnancy hormones also have a softening effect on the muscles, adding to the risk of incontinence and prolapse.
Suspect you have incontinence if you:
Written for Poise by Jane Barry, midwife and child health nurse 03/06/2021
Whilst you are training your pelvic floor POISE can help keep you comfortable and dry and protected from leaks.
Get a free sample here.