Pregnancy incontinence is the medical term given to a weak bladder during pregnancy.
You’ve just found out the beautiful news that you’ll be expecting a little bundle of joy very soon. Your body is doing its thing creating and sustaining life and you can’t help but ponder upon the very miracle that is happening in your body.
You also constantly feel like you’re going to wet yourself. Welcome to the world of a weak bladder during pregnancy. We hear you.
Pregnancy incontinence is the medical term given to a weak bladder during pregnancy
. Urinary incontinence
affects all people but it is twice as common in women due to the changes a woman’s body experiences during pregnancy and childbirth
. The incontinence may occur during pregnancy or after a woman has given birth.
When you want to urinate it involves the muscles around your urethra becoming relaxed. It helps you to control the exit of urine from your bladder. The muscles allow you to begin and stop urinating at your leisure. Incontinence occurs when you have less control over these muscles and the process of urinating.
There are a number of reasons why pregnancy incontinence happens. A change in hormones causes all ligaments and joints to loosen up and become a lot more relaxed during the months of pregnancy. This is to prepare the body for the physical body changes as well as giving birth. On top of this, the uterus can add extra weight and pressure on the bladder as can the size and position of the baby – particularly from the later second trimester onwards when the baby is much larger in size.
When a woman is pregnant she may only experience a weak bladder or incontinence issues when she does certain things. Many women notice that it happens when they laugh, sneeze, cough or run. It can vary from mild to extreme leaking and can be very difficult to accept – particularly as it makes a woman feel self-conscious and embarrassed if it happens at work or in public.
If you are experiencing pregnancy incontinence there are a number of things that can really help you
1. Have you been doing your Kegel exercises? These exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor as well as the bladder. It involves contracting and relaxing the muscles in the pelvis – just like you would when you are beginning or stopping the flow of urination when you are using the toilet. This is one of the most effective ways of improving incontinence and women can see results within 4-6 weeks of doing it consistently. It is recommended to contract the muscles, hold for ten seconds and then release. Doing this 10-20 times in a row, two to three times a day will suffice.
2. Pregnancy incontinence can also worsen if a woman gains an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy. Try to focus on a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, protein, iron and whole-grains as well as regular exercise to ensure that you are being as healthy as possible.
3. Making regular toilet breaks a priority is also very important. This helps to ensure that you don’t get “caught” off-guard with a very full bladder. As a pregnant woman, you will need more regular toilet breaks and that is natural and normal.
After a woman has given birth the incontinence may improve but it can also worsen due to the way a vaginal delivery affects the muscles of the vagina and pelvis. A woman who has experienced no pregnancy incontinence is at less of a risk of having these issues.
If you are concerned you should consult your GP or midwife team as you may require an antenatal physiotherapy referral to help you control the issue.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.