Urine Leakage After Childbirth: Your Guide To Postpartum Incontinence
Postpartum incontinence or urine leakage after childbirth is a cause of concern for about 7 million US mothers. A third of new moms experience urinary incontinence as they laugh, sneeze, cough, run, do strenuous exercise, or lift something. Though common in the first few months of childbirth, it can be socially embarrassing when you lose control over the bladder at home, office, or public place.
Most women experience urinary incontinence while pregnant. This involuntary urine leakage continues even after childbirth, as it dwindles the strength of pelvic muscles inhibiting their ability to control the bladder. Sometimes pelvic issues lead to an overactive bladder too. According to an Obstetrics & Gynecology journal report, normal pregnancy and childbirth contribute to altered bladder control in 50 percent of women.
Pregnancy brings changes to urethra and bladder positions while childbirth often impacts nerves that play a vital role in controlling the bladder. Notwithstanding if it is a vaginal or cesarean delivery, the risk of urine leakage after childbirth remains. However, postpartum incontinence is treatable with lifestyle changes and pelvic muscle activation.
Here is your complete guide to urine leakage after childbirth and how to manage or prevent it.
Understanding Postpartum Incontinence
The inability to effectively control the bladder after childbirth results in new moms involuntarily dribbling a few drops of urine while coughing, sneezing, working out, or doing strenuous jobs. It does not mean a complete or permanent loss of bladder control as observed in seniors but a temporary urine leakage after childbirth.
Postpartum incontinence experienced by mothers after giving birth is of three types.
- Urgency incontinence, which leads to quick, involuntary urination.
- Stress incontinence, which results in sudden urination as you work, cough, exercise, run, laugh, or do any activity.
- Mixed incontinence, which causes unexpected urination without any urge or pressure.
Most new moms suffer from stress incontinence. Those with a similar problem during the pregnancy are more likely to continue to have it even after the childbirth. Research indicates bladder control problems begin during the first or second pregnancy trimester and increases with the growth of the fetus. Urine leakage after childbirth is observed until 3 to 6 months following the delivery.
Also, postpartum incontinence is more prevalent when labor is prolonged. If you take longer to push the baby out, you are more likely to have it after childbirth. Using forceps to pull out the baby too increases the risk. Epidurals during the childbirth numb the nerves around the bladder and this leads to the loss of bladder control.
Causative Factors of Postpartum Incontinence
There is no one factor to single out for urine leakage after childbirth. It could be a combination of many factors. The most believed theory is that pregnancy causes strain on pelvic muscles responsible for bladder control. As a result, these muscles and ligaments turn weak with fetal growth. Their strength is further eroded during childbirth and they become unable to close the urethra properly. All these changes in the pelvic area play a role in reducing the ability to control the bladder after childbirth leading to postpartum incontinence.
The chances of urine leakage after childbirth increase with
- Pregnancy-related pelvic injury
- Episiotomy cut or tears made to facilitate the childbirth
- Birth of more, larger, or multiple babies
- An extended period of labor
- Damage to the pelvic nerves around the bladder
- Movement of the urethra while pregnant
- Age and obesity of a mother
- Use of spinal blocks to reduce childbirth pain
- Forceps or vacuum delivery.
Recent studies blame on hormonal changes modifying urethra and bladder linings for urine leakage after childbirth. Diabetes, heart problems, urinary tract infections, and anxiety medications also increase the odds.
How To Manage, Prevent Postpartum Incontinence
- Behavioral Training
You may train your mind and gradually gain control over the bladder. Practicing time voiding helps overcome postpartum incontinence. Keep a record of the pattern of urinary leakage after childbirth so that you are able to know when you have such episodes and you can preempt the bladder to avoid them.
Simultaneously, you can stretch out your bathroom visits. First, it should once in 30 minutes. Then once in an hour. Then extend the time lag to two hours.
- Lifestyle Changes
Focus on healthy eating and have plenty of fiber-rich food, fruits, and vegetables on your platter. Avoid chocolates, sugary food, spicy meals, alcohol, and known-diuretics. Lead an active life and avoid obesity. Reducing weight may also help.
- Use Pads or Devices
Smaller bladder control pads offer many advantages over bulky diapers and overnight pads. You can carry them easily. These pads quickly absorb leaks and allow you to continue your activity without any embarrassment. Medical devices are also available to control the urine flow. For example, the vaginal pessary is used as a bladder control or urethra strengthening tool.
- Kegel Exercises
Pelvic floor workout or Kegel exercises help prevent urine leakage after childbirth. Kegel muscles are those pelvic muscles responsible for controlling the bladder. Strengthening them on a daily basis enables greater control over urination and the bladder.
You may do Kegel exercises to stop urine midstream. Try to hold urination for 10 seconds every day. You should also regularly practice 3-4 times a day while driving or sitting. Relax your abdomen and thighs and then tighten pelvic muscles. Hold it for 30 seconds each time. It improves the urethra function and bladder control.
If you have any concerns about postpartum problems, check out Moo Brew Brands resources and offerings. We endeavor to make sure you recover quickly after childbirth and with full strength and enjoy the blessings of motherhood with your Little One.