Urinary incontinence (UI) occurs when there’s an involuntary loss of urine originating from stress on the bladder, frequent urges, hormone changes, and more.
There are different types of UI, but the most common are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence is caused by the physical changes from pregnancy and results in an involuntary loss of urine during physical actions like coughing, laughing, or sneezing.
Urge incontinence is caused by damaged nerve endings in the bladder and can result in frequent urges to urinate that cause leaks.
Many women experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy, and some of those women continue to have symptoms after having the baby. With all of the other responsibilities keeping you busy after pregnancy, you shouldn’t have to worry about urinary incontinence.
Here are 6 ways you can manage postpartum urinary incontinence:
1. Perform Kegel exercises.
Because childbirth weakens the muscles of the pelvic floor, Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen them again. During Kegel exercises, try to relax your abdominal, thigh, and buttox muscles, and focus on tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor. Tighten the muscles for 10 seconds and release for 10 seconds, then repeat the cycle a couple times per day.
2. Practice timed voiding.
Timed voiding involves urinating on a set schedule. This will help train your bladder to respond to your control and will decrease your involuntary urges. Wear a watch or set reminders on your phone and make a schedule that doesn’t interfere with your normal routine. If the urge to urinate arises, try contracting the pelvic floor muscles and wait to go until your scheduled time.
3. Retrain your bladder.
Your bladder can be trained just like many other parts of your body. Try urinating frequently and then gradually increase the intervals in which you urinate. Start with every hour, then every two hours, and increase the gap until you resume your normal urination habits.
4. Stay hydrated.
Drinking plenty of water might seem counter-intuitive for urinary incontinence, but avoiding water won’t decrease your urges to urinate, and it will increase your risk of dehydration.
5. Avoid irritating foods and drinks.
Coffee, alcohol, and citrus foods can contribute to your urges to urinate. Try eliminating these foods or drinks as long as you’re experiencing symptoms, or at least cut back on them to the point where they’re not inducing frequent urges.
6. Shed the baby weight in a timely manner.
Extra weight put on during pregnancy is normal, but it can put pressure on your bladder and increase symptoms of UI. Shedding these pounds can reduce the frequent urge to urinate and be beneficial to your overall health. Don’t try to lose it all at once: gradual weight loss is healthier and more achievable.
Practice these habits to decrease your symptoms from UI and focus on enjoying life with your new baby!
Urinary incontinence doesn’t always develop or continue after pregnancy, but it’s a common condition that can cause inconvenience. Occasionally, symptoms can become serious, which might require surgery. If your symptoms worsen or are ongoing, it may be time to contact your doctor.
To schedule an appointment with our urologist, call RAMC at 608-524-6487 or visit our urology page.