While pregnant, you can experience a host of symptoms, including incontinence. Fortunately, most of them go away after childbirth. Continued incontinence after the birth of a baby though is not normal. If you are experiencing postpartum incontinence, here is what you need to know.
What Causes Postpartum Incontinence?
The act of childbirth can place a great deal of stress on your pelvic floor muscles. During childbirth, your pelvic floor can become stretched and damage. This is even true if you ended up having an emergency c-section. After childbirth, your muscles do not automatically go back to their pre-pushing shape. You have the responsibility of working on your muscles to strengthen them.
How Can You Strengthen Your Muscles?
The most commonly recommended method of strengthening your pelvic floor muscle is to do Kegel exercises, also called pelvic floor exercises. Kegel exercises involve tightening and holding the muscles that you use to stop your urine flow. You can practice stopping and starting your flow while urinating. Once you are sure which muscles are used, you can start your exercises.
To get the maximum benefit out of Kegel exercises, you should do them at least three times a day during the three-month period following the birth of your child. After the three-month period has passed, you need to continue to do the exercises at least two times a week.
You also need to focus on losing weight. Additional weight can place pressure on your bladder and help increase the likelihood that you experience occasional leakage. Avoid citrus, coffee, and soft drinks, which can irritate your bladder. To protect against leakage, you can wear pads to help absorb the urine. Do not use tampons. Tampons do not help stop or block the flow of urine. You are not supposed to use tampons in the period following childbirth anyway.
What If the Incontinence Persists?
The continued presence of incontinence could be a sign that you have another medical condition. If left untreated, the problem could potentially become a long-term one that affects your quality of life. You should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist if the problem persists after six weeks of doing the Kegel exercises.
Postpartum incontinence should not be ignored. Even though your body has been through a lot during the childbirth process, continued incontinence is not one of the things that you have to tolerate. Talk to your gynecologist at a place like South Ave Women's Services about other ways you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and avoid leakage.