Wee wee wee – all the way home

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 

5 Surprising things about my postpartum recovery

When I was pregnant I geeked up on my pregnancy, what was happening day by day, how my body was changing, how it was going to change over the 40 weeks.  I read books, blogs, downloaded 3 different pregnancy apps and read them like the Bible everyday. Some of the articles touched on postpartum recovery, but really I didn’t pay that close attention. So there were some things that surprised me when it came to my postpartum recovery I wish I had known a little about before so I wasn’t obsessively googling!

1.Urinary Incontinence. I learned about incontinence fast. And I’m not talking about the kind of incontinence you get when you laugh or cough and just a little bit of pee comes out. I’m talking about standing up out of bed and your entire bladder falls out from between your legs into a warm puddle beneath you, with no way of stopping it no matter how hard you think about it.  Apparently postpartum incontinence is very common (1 in 3 will women suffer) – so how come I had never heard of this before?! What’s more…it can take months to recover.  When the nurse told me it should get better within a few weeks, I believed her.  But now, I am not so sure.  It has definitely got better since the immediate week after giving birth, but I am no way near being fixed.  Chris had me sit on towels on the sofa and in the car, he even put multiple layers of waterproof blankets under my side of the bed (a picnic blanket with a waterproof bottom, and one of the pads we took home from the hospital!).  Fortunately I haven’t had any real big embarrassing accidents.  I’ve been working on my kegels (I did do these when I was pregnant BTW) and trying to stop/start the urine flow when I pee.  Sometimes I can control the flow and other times I can’t no matter how hard I try, this gets me upset and frustrated at myself.  Here’s hoping the nurse was right and this doesn’t last long.

2. Night sweats.  The first night home I woke up after an hour (because that is all my sweet one would let me sleep) and I was DRENCHED – as if I had jumped into a bath in my sleep.  Weirdly, I had even managed to shape my duvet into a wet ball and was cradling it like it was my baby (that’s another story!).  The same thing happened night after night.  I suffered night sweats when I took the Progesterone in oil during IVF, so I hazarded a guess that it is hormonal related.  Again, a quick google, and apparently night sweats is very common in postpartum recovery! It is the hormones aiding the body to rid of all the excess fluid no longer needed that was made for pregnancy.  Oh OK then.  Could have warned me so I could be prepared with a few towels by my bed! Just as well Chris put those layers down in the bed for my incontinence!

3.  Body changes.  OK so I knew my body was going to change after giving birth – No shit Sherlock!  But what I wasn’t prepared for was how MY body was going to change.  Suddenly, I could sleep in what ever position I wanted.  I had got used to bending at the knees when I picked up things from the dishwasher/bottom cupboard etc.  But now I could put my shoes and socks on without having to contort myself into a yoga pose.  All of these things changed gradually when I was pregnant and now the change back was almost instantaneous…I couldn’t get out of the habit of doing my pregnancy moves! I only needed my maternity clothes for perhaps 2-3 days after giving birth, it wasn’t long before I was  able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.  Yesterday I packed away my maternity clothes and I felt an overwhelming sadness.  I haven’t packed away my maternity trousers/jeans though because they are so comfy!!! I missed my pregnant body so I had a little cry, I don’t know why I felt like that because now I have more clothes I can wear!  Part of me was also deeply sad for myself as I wondered whether I would ever wear those clothes again.  It was hard to let go.

4.  Weight loss.  Speaking of body changes…within 3 days I was down to my IVF weight and within a week I was back down to pre-IVF weight.  Some of you are probably hating me right now.  But honestly I did not expect it to be that fast, I started to worry if that was even normal.  I must have lost my IVF weight when I was pregnant which would explain why I only put on a total of 12lbs.  Remembering that I felt guilty for Aviana being growth restricted (IUGR), this just reinforced my guilty feeling.  May be I hadn’t eaten enough when I was pregnant, may be I wasn’t nourishing Aviana.  I have so many questions about Aviana being IUGR and what this means for a future pregnancy if we decided to try again.  I am hoping that my OB will shed some light on this at my postpartum appointment with the results of my placenta testing.

5.  Phantom kicks.  It is the strangest feeling…I know there isn’t a baby in there, but I was still feeling ‘kicks’ for two weeks after giving birth.  Whenever I felt something I would rub my tummy as if Aviana was still in there.  So so weird.

None of these surprises are terrible (except for perhaps the urinary incontinence being rather a pain), just wish I knew about them before!