Postpartum bladder leakage
Have you suffered from bladder leakage postpartum? Based on feedback from recent Mama’s that have used Partum Panties many of our new mama community have – and it can take you by surprise!
What is it?
Bladder leakage (urinary incontinence) is the involuntary or accidental loss of urine from the bladder, basically peeing when you don’t mean to. It can be a small leak through to a complete loss of bladder control.
Pregnancy is a major cause of bladder leakage as the hormones that you produce whilst pregnant stretch out the tissues and muscles (your pelvic floor) that support your bowel, uterus and bladder. When giving birth, if you have a vaginal delivery, your baby moves down through your vagina and stretches your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can remain stretched for some time. The combination of pregnancy and delivery can cause your bladder to weaken which can lead to urinary incontinence.
How common is it?
Whist it may take you by surprise bladder leakage is quite common. Up to 1 in 3 Mum’s will experience bladder leakage in some capacity.
You may have heard of women leaking urine when they sneeze, laugh, exercise or cough – or heaven forbid jump on a trampoline. This is commonly known as stress incontinence.
It’s not just Mama’s who have given birth vaginally who can suffer from bladder leakage, women who have had a caesarean birth can also suffer from it, but it is slightly less common.
For most new mums, bladder leakage goes away as your stretched pelvic floor muscles recover, usually within a month of delivery. However, for some new Mum’s it can take months and in rarer cases never fully recover.
Treatment and what you can do to prevent it
The best treatment for bladder leakage is prevention. Whilst this may not prevent bladder leakage from happening completely, it can help to reduce the severity of symptoms if you do suffer from little leaks postpartum.
To prevent incontinence postpartum, try to practice the below simple steps whilst you are pregnant:
- Eat a high fibre diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid a day and avoid drinking sugar or caffeine (as this can irritate the bladder)
- Exercise for 30 minutes or more a day
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t go to the toilet when you don’t need to
- Do pelvic floor exercises regularly (see this helpful guide from the Continence Foundation of Australia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2xcgG2WAg0)
When you’ve just given birth your pelvic floor needs time to recover. Try to ice the perineal area for a few days after delivery and get as much rest as you can. After this time you can start to do gentle pelvic floor contractions whilst you are lying down, be very gentle and build up slowly (both how many you do and how long you do them for) over time.
Because of the space that a baby takes up in your uterus whilst you are pregnant, squishing your bladder and causing you to need to urinate more frequently, retraining your bladder after giving birth can also help with bladder leakage. You can do this by trying to hold off from going to the toilet until your bladder is full.
If you need extra support while you are working on your pelvic floor exercises, feedback from our mama’s has told us that Partum Panties supported them well with postpartum bladder leaks.
If you find that your bladder leakage doesn’t improve within the first month postpartum please see a women’s health physio as they specialise in postpartum bladder function. You should also talk to your doctor as you may require specialist treatment.