Managing incontinence during pregnancy and after birth
Your pregnancy and little bundle of joy comes with a surprise bonus for some women – incontinence! Here’s our top tips to manage this unwelcome side effect of motherhood.
While you’re pregnant, the growing pressure on your bladder or a possible urinary infection can cause slight bladder leakage. Especially in the last trimester, the weight of the baby is considerable.
Exercising your pelvic floor during pregnancy may reduce your chances of incontinence after the baby is delivered. It can even help improve your labour (you need those strong muscles to push). Speak to your obstetrician about pelvic floor exercises as it’s important to get your technique right.
Incontinence after giving birth
After baby is born, you might find that a sneeze, laugh or lifting a heavy toddler causes light bladder leakage. One in three Australian women who’ve had a baby suffer incontinence sometime after delivery.
The delivery of the baby causes the pelvic floor muscles to stretch and weaken. Even if you’ve had a caesarean, the weight of the baby on your bladder is enough to cause problems.
Most Australian hospitals and maternal health care nurses are great at teaching new mothers about doing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles. Repeating the exercises several times each day (when feeding the baby is a good idea) will soon help return your pelvic floor to good pre-baby condition. It’s very easy to ignore or forget pelvic floor exercises when you’re looking after a tiny newborn, but your future self will thank you for your diligence.
If you’re worried about protecting your mattress at night, it’s a good idea to have a good quality fitted mattress protector and you can also use the Up & Under Linen & Mattress Protector which will keep your mattress and bed linen dry, especially if you’re experiencing frequent leakage.
If your symptoms don’t show signs of improvement within three to six months, seek advice from your doctor. There are many experts that can help, such as physiotherapists, urologists and continence nurses – so see your GP or maternal health nurse to discuss your specific symptoms.