As our bodies grow, so does the bladder, and when growing a little one inside you, your bladder adapts to the pregnancy. Women’s pelvic health is just as important before childbirth as it is postpartum, as nearly all pregnant women will be affected by bladder issues during their pregnancy.
As the baby (or in some cases babies) grows inside the womb, pressure is placed on the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor muscles. For pregnant women, this can lead to urinary incontinence. Incontinence increases the feeling of urgency and leads to more frequent trips to the bathroom. This can also mean urine leakage between trips.
During pregnancy, some women develop stress incontinence, which leads to less bladder control and possible leaking when coughing, laughing or during physical exertion. Stress incontinence typically goes away after childbirth.
While all women are at risk of postpartum bladder issues, some individuals have factors that can increase their risk even more, including: being a first-time mother, having a history of bladder problems, having a prolonged labor and pushing period, use of forceps or a vacuum during delivery, receiving lacerations or episiotomies, receiving an epidural or spinal anesthesia or having cesarean deliveries.
Childbirth is a long process and during that process, the pelvic floor stretches, allowing the baby to exit the womb. A combination of hormones and pushing leaves muscles weakened around the bladder. This can lead to lack of control and increases the probability of accidental urine leaks. These issues usually go away on their own, but for some women it can become a long-term problem.
Kegel exercises can aid in strengthening the pelvic muscles and regaining bladder control. Ask your doctor about an exercise routine that’s best for you. Practicing Kegels one to three times daily yields the best results.
It’s also advised that you try to urinate at least every two to three hours, postpartum. If you’re having issues urinating, please contact your physician.
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