What to Know About Incontinence After Birth

Childbirth is one of the most life-altering events in a woman’s life. You’ve created and carried a human and now get to experience the joys of raising a child. Most women hear about the sleepless nights, and issues like breast leakage after giving birth, but what about those instances of involuntary bladder release? 

You may experience urinary incontinence after giving birth. The good news is, restoring your pelvic floor can treat the problem and give you back control of your bladder.

At Caring for Women’s Health, gynecologist Dr. Lori Davidson compassionately guides women through all phases of life, including childbirth, and we find that it’s not uncommon for patients to report bladder control issues after having a baby. Visiting a gynecologist is a good place to start in the journey to regain bladder control after childbirth.

What is postpartum incontinence?

We use the term postpartum urinary incontinence to refer to involuntary release of a woman’s bladder after childbirth. While it commonly occurs after activities that put pressure on the pelvic floor, such as sneezing or giggling, it’s no laughing matter.

Postpartum urinary incontinence is a condition that can have a serious impact on a woman’s quality of life. Women with bladder control challenges after childbirth report impact on their mood and overall well-being. Some women may feel embarrassed and even limit certain social activities.

If you have urinary incontinence after childbirth, you may experience a sudden partial or full bladder leakage triggered by the following activities:

Why does childbirth affect your bladder control?

Your pelvic floor is composed of a group of muscles and connective tissues that span beneath your pelvis. This area acts as a sling to support important organs, including your bladder and uterus.

During pregnancy, your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby. This puts extra pressure on your pelvic floor. During childbirth the pelvic floor stretches even more and can become weak or damaged. This makes urinary incontinence more likely.

Up to 40% of women experience urinary incontinence after giving birth. Risk factors include:

For women who have given birth before, each subsequent pregnancy places further stress on the pelvic floor, raising the chance of having urinary incontinence.

I have urinary incontinence - now what?

There are treatment options to help you get your bladder back under control, so you can get on with your life. Depending on the severity and your unique set of factors, Dr. Davidson may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing excess weight. If you’re overweight, following a nutritious diet and getting enough physical activity can help ease symptoms.

Dr. Davidson may also recommend pelvic floor exercises, known as Kegel exercises, that help strengthen the pelvic floor. Kegel exercises are simple, and you can do them anywhere.

For women with more severe or troublesome symptoms, Dr. Davidson may recommend sling surgery. During this minimally-invasive procedure, Dr. Davidson creates a sling from a thin strip of mesh or your body tissue to lift and support your bladder to prevent leaks.

After a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Davidson will discuss your treatment options to help you choose the approach that’s right for you.

Urge incontinence versus stress incontinence

It’s important to understand the difference between urge incontinence and stress incontinence. The underlying cause for stress incontinence is different from urge incontinence and the treatment approaches differ.

Urge incontinence is when you have a strong, unstoppable urge to urinate, followed by the sudden loss of urine. Stress incontinence is not accompanied by a sudden urge to urinate. Following childbirth, women who are affected by urinary incontinence tend to have stress incontinence. Some women have symptoms of both urge incontinence and stress incontinence, known as mixed incontinence.

There’s no need to struggle with urinary leakage after childbirth. Available treatment options can give you the relief you need. Stop in to see Dr. Davidson at our Greenwood, Indiana, office by calling 317-893-3131 to set up an appointment or book online. 

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