Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Incontinence doesn't have to be a part of your life from now on – this isn’t just ‘part of being a mom’. You don’t have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of incontinence, then at some solutions that you can try.
Types of Incontinence
Stress incontinence is caused by an increase in pressure on the bladder. This is the type of incontinence that often occurs during pregnancy. As the baby grows your bladder has less and less space and more pressure pushing down on it. You may find that you have to go to the bathroom much more often (especially in the later stages of pregnancy) or that sneezes and coughs can cause you to leak. As there is only so much space for the baby to develop, pressure on the bladder can sometimes be unavoidable, but there are strategies to find relief.
Urgency incontinence occurs when you get frequent and/or sudden urges to go to the bathroom and is sometimes accompanied by leakage. Sometimes, this type of incontinence is referred to as overactive bladder.
Common Causes of Urgency Incontinence
Episiotomy – during delivery, some women need more space created in order to help the baby on its way out. In order to help create this extra space, an episiotomy is often performed. This is when a cut is made in the perineum, the skin between the vagina and the anus, which makes it easier to deliver the baby.
Damage to nerves – damage to the nerves can occur because of an accident or injury. If the signals in the body are not working properly in this region, it can cause incontinence.
Weight – women who are overweight prior to pregnancy or who gain significant weight during pregnancy are more susceptible to struggling with incontinence.
Smoking – a history of smoking prior to pregnancy can also lead to incontinence during pregnancy.
Age – as women age, 1% of urethra muscle is lost every year. Thus, the older we get, the more potential we will have to lose control of our bladders during pregnancy and postpartum. It’s also been shown that women who have incontinence during pregnancy are more likely to have it postpartum as well.
Damage to the pelvic floor – damage to the pelvic floor often occurs during delivery – whether it is a vaginal birth or cesarean. Tears and rips in your muscles are common and can lead to less control in the pelvic region.
Solutions for Incontinence
Pelvic Floor Exercises
I cannot stress enough the importance of pelvic floor exercises. These can help with incontinence both during and after pregnancy. The more strength you have in your pelvic floor muscles, the more you will have the ability to control when you go, which means you will be less likely to leak during the day.
Scheduled Bathroom Breaks
While this might seem kind of silly, it can actually truly help you avoid leakage, especially during pregnancy. Pay attention to how often you feel the urge to go to the bathroom and then plan breaks into every day and take a trip to the restroom. This way, no matter what unexpected events occur during the day, you are less likely to end up in a situation with a full bladder and no bathroom around.
There have been scientific studies performed which showed that women who participated in exercise reported less problems associated with urinary incontinence. The overall strengthening of the body, including the pelvic floor muscles seemed to contribute to the ability to control the flow of urine.
One solution that many women turn to postpartum is a pessary. There are several versions of this device, but no matter which one is deemed best for you, the purpose is the same. It is inserted into your vagina to help support your internal organs and gain more control over your urges to go.
If incontinence is something that you have been struggling with, I hope this article has been an eyeopener. You aren’t alone and there is help! Start working on the things that you can control and if you want or need further advice, ask your doctor. But no matter what, arm yourself with this information and don’t let yourself suffer from incontinence anymore. Take steps to begin controlling those leaks and frequent urges to go.