Sooooo I may have been listening to too many nursery rhymes recently, but the little piggy nursery rhyme inspired my blog post title. Haha! Actually this blog is about weeing, not pigs or nursery rhymes. Namely, it’s about Postpartum Urinary Incontinence. That’s a thing…and it’s a thing that’s not really talked about much, but….*
- 35% of new moms experience stress urinary incontinence in the postpartum period.
- More than 50% of women have a diastatis rectus abdominis after pregnancy. (A diastatis rectus abdominis is the separation of the abs from their central tendon and is a leading cause of low back pain, stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.)
- 20% of first-time moms show severe pelvic floor muscle injury after a normal pregnancy/delivery.
So it’s actually not uncommon. And this is what I am currently suffering from at 9 weeks postpartum.
Have you ever found yourself avoiding running, lifting, playing or laughing with your child because you fear incontinence? This is some of what I have experienced. No one should have to put up with it. It sucks! And you shouldn’t wait to let it ‘Resolve itself’ either because it probably won’t wholly. I chose physical therapy to help me to get those pelvic floor muscles back to being strong again. I want to walk, lift and run again! I don’t want to wait a year.
If you have it, You don’t have to put up with it and be led to believe it is normal. Yes, it is not unusual to experience incontinence after labour, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.
In France and other countries like the Netherlands and Australia, postpartum physical therapy is a common treatment to help women recover from the rigors of childbirth. Yet in the United States, women have a 6-week postpartum check-up and are told to resume their normal activities. Another issue is that although women are encouraged to do Kegel exercises, doing so can make perineal tears worse. Knowing how to do the exercises correctly is really important to prevent further damage.
So when I told my OB about my incontinence issues she referred me to a physical therapist. Today was my fourth therapy session. These sessions are really helping, mostly because I have been educated in the whole pelvic floor muscle physiology, what muscles they are connected to, how to build the muscles and train my muscles to hold in the pee better before I cough or sneeze.
It’s all about building your good posture, a strong core, hips and glutes. Everything is connected and helps the pelvic floor muscles to build up nice and strong.
It’s also about eating the right things… did you know that sweeteners are bladder irritants? Yup, all that tea, diet drinks and yoghurts don’t help my recovery. Honestly, these are hard to give up! Especially tea because coffee is also not good either for the bladder. Ughhhh.
It’s also about relaxation. HA! Of course I have time to relax with a newborn baby. Ummmm not. But this is the best part of my physical therapy. Breathing deeply, legs up, heating pad on my abdomen and dim lights for several minutes. Stress apparently doesn’t help the bladder either.
The physical therapy is helping, but I am still having a few accidents now and then. I’m now able to walk a couple of miles now and hold in the pee. Several weeks ago I was fearing taking Avian out for a walk further than down the road m because I needed to pee all the time. But I’m not quite at the stage of being able to run yet. So several more weeks of therapy is still needed. It takes time. It’s also hard to fit in my homework exercises with Aviana, especially any relaxation ones. It’s also meant that I have had to hire a nanny so that I can attend my appointments, but in the end that has been a good thing because I get a little break in the week for some me time.
I can understand why it easy to just get by with urinary incontinence and put up with it rather than going for physical therapy. 1. It’s an embarrassing issue. 2. You can buy pads to cope with it. 3. Some doctors will tell you that time will heal it, so you listen and put up with it. Then a few months later when you still have it, you never find the time to make an appointment to fix it.
Ladies, it is normal to experience postpartum urinary incontinence, but you DONT have to put up with it. Also, if you want another baby later down the road then it’s also important to get those pelvic floor muscles back into shape before getting pregnant again. Don’t put it off!!! I’m glad I didn’t.
*source: pelvic pain rehab center