Continence After Childbirth

After childbirth it is not unusual for women to experience some bladder leakage. Bladder leakage – no matter how light- is not normal. Most cases can be cured or better managed.

What Causes Bladder Leakage After Childbirth?

During pregnancy the structures supporting your bladder, uterus and bowel are stretched by the growing womb. While they do shrink somewhat after delivery, they do not regain their pre-pregnancy shape.

During childbirth, the muscle of the pelvic floor stretch to allow baby to come thru. Sometimes these muscles get damaged and need help to regain their strength. Any pushing down action in the weeks after birth can re-damage or stretch the pelvic floor muscles. You need to protect these muscles by gently pulling up and avoiding pressure.

These ideas may help you:

  • Pick up your pelvic floor before you pick up anything
  • Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor while coughing or sneezing
  • Share the lifting of anything heavy
  • Avoid any exercise that involves bouncing
  • Do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor

Bladder Control

Not all leakage is due to weak pelvic floor muscles. Poor bladder control may have developed during pregnancy or start after birth. Many women have a lifelong history of poor bladder habits taught to them by their mother.

Poor bladder control includes:

  • Going too frequently – bladders should only need to be emptied every 3-4 hours
  • Passing small amounts when you pee – a healthy bladder can hold between 400-600 ml of urine
  • Going with extreme urgency or not making it in time – you should have enough time to make it to the toilet
  • Being woken up by your bladder (not the baby) during the night.
  • Bladder control can be regained with bladder training techniques. These include monitoring how much you drink and how much urine comes out, and slowly training your bladder to hold more urine.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

You can start pelvic floor muscle training at any time during your pregnancy or after.

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