Postpartum urinary incontinence, in other words leaking, is a subject many women rather not talk about. It's uncomfortable, shameful and can have a major effect on a woman's self-esteem. Let's face it - no one wants to wear a pantyliner just in case!
Pelvic floor muscles provide support to the organs that lie on it. The muscles also control over the bladder and bowel so that we can control the release of urine, faeces and wind.
Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function. They affect for example on the sensation in many ways. Too tight pelvic floor muscles can prevent intercourse or lead to dyspareunia.
When you suffer from urinary incontinence, a little bit of urine involuntarily leaks out. It typically happens when you sneeze, cough, jump or laugh. It can also happen when you need to pee really bad and don't quite make it in to a bathroom on time.
During pregnancy, the growing baby and expanding uterus place a lot of pressure on the bladder. This may result in urine leaks when pregnant. However, it may come as a surprise, but many women suffer from it also after the baby is born. (We have seen as many as one third to one half of women struggling with it after pregnancy, so you are definitely not alone!)
Pregnancy and childbirth put the pelvic floor muscles under a lot of strain. Many pregnant women suffer from a constant need to pee and from continence problems, especially towards the delivery.
Also the general tension of the pelvic floor muscles reduces due to the hormones. All these changes prepare the body for childbirth and should also be taken into account in recovery from the pregnancy and childbirth.
In addition to pregnancy, vaginal delivery also strains the pelvic floor muscles. The pushing phase is especially hard on the pelvic floor muscles, as the heavy stretching can lead to tissue or nerve damage. These expose the mother to bowel and urinary incontinence, and at worst to uterine or vaginal prolapse.
The most common way to treat urinary incontinence is by strengthening pelvic floor muscles with safe exercises.
You can identify which muscles are your pelvic floor muscles and need to be trained by doing a simple exercise.
After the birth of your baby, you should begin pelvic floor muscle training as soon as you can. However, it's good to remember that it's never too late to start the training. Always try to “brace” your pelvic floor muscles (squeeze up and hold) each time before you cough, sneeze or lift your baby or heavy loads.
According to the International Urogynecology Journal pelvic floor training has been proven to treat pre- and postpartum urinary incontinence directly. And the benefits continue even years after!