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Hopefully, after we’ve dealt with the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and childbirth, the reward is the beautiful baby we’ve brought into the world. Who would think that we’d also get an annoying little party favor to take home with us? Yep, that’s right, I’m talking about postpartum incontinence.
While leaking urine after delivery isn’t the most fantastic aspect of having a baby, it is, unfortunately, a shared experience among many new moms.
Are you concerned about your bladder problems after childbirth?
Well, here’s the good thing: incontinence after childbirth is not only normal, but there are things you can do to help correct the issue!
So, before you go out and buy a lifetime supply of Depends, why not take a look at our suggestions for handling incontinence after pregnancy first?
What is Postpartum Incontinence (and Why Does It Happen?!)
During a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed postpartum recovery and childbirth, and pregnancy’s toll on your body.
We got on the subject of bladder problems after childbirth, and she said to me, “You know what postpartum incontinence is – it’s the panty liner stash in my gym bag and extra pair of pants and undies in my work locker.”
As much as we like to pretend it doesn’t happen, it’s time to accept that involuntarily leaking urine after childbirth is par for the postpartum course.
Here’s the thing about pregnancy – as your baby grows, your uterus has to expand to provide more room for them.
But what about all of your other organs?
Well, they certainly don’t disappear! Instead, they get squished up inside your body and still have to do their job with a giant baby and uterus pressing down on them.
The extra pressure on your bladder from your uterus and growing child can cause more than a bit of strain throughout pregnancy. Hence, so many women suddenly look surprised after a big sneeze, cough, or laugh that sends them searching for extra maternity panties.
Your bladder may spontaneously release small amounts of urine throughout your day-to-day activities thanks to the increased pressure.
Regretfully, our bladders don’t always bounce right back after natural childbirth or c-section.
In addition to the pressure placed on your bladder during pregnancy, labor and delivery can further stretch, tear, or strain the tissues and nerves surrounding it.
When such effects happen, your chances of developing incontinence after pregnancy usually increase.
Are Bladder Problems After Childbirth Normal?
While not everyone experiences postpartum incontinence, throwing a few extra pairs of underwear into your new mom survival kit couldn’t hurt. A 2010 study determined approximately 33% of women will experience bladder problems after childbirth.
That’s a pretty high number, which proves incontinence after pregnancy happens more often than we think.
Incontinence After Childbirth Statistics You Need to Know
If you’ve recently had a baby and have sprung a leak a time or two, there’s no shame in your incontinence game – you’re certainly not alone.
Here are some incontinence after childbirth statistics to explain just how often bladder problems after pregnancy occur:
- One-third of all women experience bladder problems after their first pregnancy.
- During future pregnancies, more than three-quarters of women experience postpartum incontinence.
- Only 5% of women still struggle with postpartum bladder problems more than a year after delivery.
- 60% of women experience complete recovery from bladder problems after childbirth within their first two months postpartum.
- Using forceps during delivery increases the likelihood that postpartum incontinence will occur.
- Women who have a vaginal delivery are 50% more likely to experience incontinence after childbirth than those who have a c-section.
Do Some Women Suffer from Complete Loss of Bladder Control After Childbirth?
Complete loss of bladder control after childbirth isn’t very common, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Certain conditions and injuries could cause this, such as:
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Pelvic Nerve Damage
- Injury During Delivery, typically from using forceps
- Injury from Prolonged Pushing
Will Postpartum Incontinence Go Away on Its Own?
Nearly half of the people who give birth won’t have any type of incontinence after pregnancy. This is because the nerve responses to the pelvic muscles recover automatically. For most others, once the nerves heal in about two months, full bladder function is restored.
In some cases, your postpartum incontinence will continue to hang around for a little longer. Typically, this isn’t something to worry about, but be on the lookout for warning signs that you should see your doctor.
When Should You Seek Treatment from Your Doctor
If it’s been more than 6 weeks since delivery and you’re still experiencing postpartum incontinence, it’s not a bad idea to make an appointment with your doctor. They can suggest various lifestyle changes, such as dietary restrictions, bladder training, and more to correct the problem.
If you’re struggling with complete loss of bladder control after childbirth, however, make an appointment ASAP.
Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor: The Most Reliable Postpartum Incontinence Exercises
When it comes to building up your pelvic floor and rectifying bladder problems after childbirth, one of the best things you can do is start postpartum incontinence exercises.
Not sure what that means? No worries, we’re here to help!
Here are our picks for the most reliable postpartum incontinence exercises:
1. Kegels (Surprise, Surprise!)
Where postpartum incontinence exercises are concerned, it should come as no surprise that Kegels are at the top of our list. After all, the technique is a rockstar for pelvic floor health.
Are you wondering how to do a Kegel correctly? You’re not alone!
When you’re starting out, it’s best to shoot for a 5-second Kegel, five times in a row, once a day. Eventually, you can bump them up to ten seconds.
You’ll want to focus entirely on contracting your pelvic floor. Essentially, you want to act like you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing or pooping. Once you have that position, hold for five to ten seconds.
You can easily do Kegels while sitting, standing, lying down, or on all fours.
2. Modified Side Planks
For this pelvic floor exercise, you’ll want to get into a traditional side plank position, except you’ll have the bottom leg bent. Hold this position for 10 – 20 seconds a time.
Along with using a postpartum wrap, modified side planks are also a great way to build up your core after childbirth.
3. Pelvic Tilts with a Glute Bridge
Start your pelvic tilts by lying on a flat surface with your knees bent up. Gently lift your hips as high as possible (without straining!), and hold this position for ten seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Our Favorite Postpartum Incontinence Products to Keep You Dry and Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Are you searching for tools to make your postpartum incontinence slightly more bearable? Well, lucky for you, we’ve polled our community and found the best products for anyone that’s struggling with bladder problems after childbirth.
1. Speax By Thinx Incontinence Underwear
So, earlier in this article, I jokingly referred to Depends. In reality, though, why add wearing a glorified diaper under your postpartum clothes to your bladder control problems?
That’s where Speax By Thinx Incontinence Underwear comes in!
Our original best-selling pair with a full-coverage fit, a comfy lace waistband, and mo… [More]
Not only are Speax postpartum panties adorable, but they’re also incredibly comfortable. Best of all, though, they will keep you feeling dry all day long. They’re available in several different styles, and most can hold up to 8 teaspoons of liquid.
2. Silhouette Postpartum Incontinence Underwear by Depend
All jokes about Depends aside, we must give credit where credit is due. If you’re looking for a discreet, inexpensive pair of postpartum incontinence panties, the Silhouette Style by Depend is actually pretty impressive.
It provides top-notch protection against leaks from bladder problems after childbirth and even features shapewear fabric for ultimate comfort.
3. Elvie Exerciser for Pelvic Floor Training
Are you having trouble with your Kegels? No problem – the Elvie Exerciser is a great way to improve your pelvic floor training.
Note: This device is used internally for pelvic floor support. Be sure to ask your doctor when it’s okay to start using products like this after childbirth.
4. Poise Ultrathin Incontinence Pads
When you want reliable wetness protection but don’t feel like investing in special incontinence underwear, these Ultrathin Pads from Poise might be what you need.
They’re so thin you probably won’t even notice them. Plus, they’re an affordable option for any budget.
The Time Has Come to Normalize Wetting Ourselves After Childbirth
Listen, there are a lot of less than spectacular things about postpartum recovery. The sweats, the bleeding, the leaky milk – none of these things are glamorous. However, add in bladder problems after childbirth, and you’re taking things to a whole new level.
But here’s the thing – most of us have been there.
If a person tries to tell you they haven’t laughed so hard they peed a little at least once in their life, I call bullshit. (Okay, maybe there are people this hasn’t happened to, but overall, I think the scales are tipping heavily towards the pant wetters.)
No, postpartum incontinence isn’t fun, and, yes, it can be a little gross, but it’s also completely normal.
Your body has gone through so much to bring your baby into the world. If you end up leaking a bit of pee because of it, it’s not the worst thing.
The time has come to normalize incontinence after pregnancy and raise our hands in support of every person who’s just trying to learn how to cough without peeing!
Did you struggle with postpartum incontinence? How long did it last?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.