Your pregnancy should be an exciting time. But for many women, it is marred by incontinence. Is it something that goes hand in hand with a growing baby? Is there anything you can do to prevent it?
Preventing incontinence in pregnancy
Incontinence in pregnancy can be managed with a growing range of women’s incontinence pads available today. Unlike sanitary ware, incontinence pads absorb both urine and odour.
However, incontinence during pregnancy is not inevitable and neither should it be for weeks or months after giving birth either.
Why does it happen?
There are a few reasons why incontinence happens during pregnancy. Understanding these and how your body is changing is instrumental in preventing incontinence;
- Hormones – when you become pregnant, your body surges with all kinds of hormones. Some of these hormones could have an effect on your bladder. Some women find that accidental leaks or urine happen from early pregnancy until a few weeks after the birth. After this time, hormones return to normal levels and incontinence can stop.
- Weight of the growing baby – urinary incontinence is very common in late pregnancy as the weight of the growing baby places pressure on the bladder. This can be managed with incontinence products.
- Medical conditions e.g. UTIs – urinary incontinence can be symptomatic of urinary tracts infections (UTIs). If it is hurts or stings to urinate, see your GP.
- Weak pelvic floor muscles – the pelvic floor is the muscle that you use to control your bladder. If this is weak or damaged, it can make urinary incontinence a frequent occurrence.
What can be done about it?
Prevention is always better than cure and the good news is, urinary incontinence during pregnancy can be prevented. Try these ideas…
#1 Pelvic floor exercises
These are simple exercises that you do several times in a day. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, giving you more control to keep urine in your bladder even when you have an urgent need to visit the bathroom.
You don’t need any expensive equipment and you can do them in the privacy of your own home, at work, anywhere in fact!
These exercises involve clenching, holding and then releasing your pelvic floor muscle. Find your pelvic floor muscle by clenching it the next time you are urinating. When you release the muscle, urine will flow again. Once you get the feel for where it is, do these exercises when you are not urinating as some medical professionals believe that by clenching and releasing when you urinate can lead to urinary tract infections.
These exercises are considered safe and beneficial to a pregnant woman but if you are unsure, check with your midwife. Neither should these exercises hurt. Again talk to your midwife if they do.
#2 Pregnancy yoga
Yoga is an exercise regime that many people enjoy, and for pregnant women it is a gentle means of staying active right the way through pregnancy and after the birth too.
There are many challenges and changes to face when you are pregnant, including managing incontinence. This can impact on your emotional well-being, something that the calming practice of yoga can help with.
Yoga has also been proved to help reduce or even eliminate in some cases, urinary incontinence. This is because many of the exercises and stretches use the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Starting yoga during pregnancy is possible but make sure you talk it through with your midwife first and that your yoga instructor is qualified.
#3 Healthy lifestyle choicesOpting for a healthy lifestyle can also help incontinence during pregnancy. Cutting down on caffeinated drinks – tea, coffee, energy drinks and some hot chocolate brands – stopping smoking and drinking, as well as watching what you eat all play an impact on staying healthy in pregnancy.
Some food and drinks can exacerbate urinary incontinence. Spicy foods and acidic foods can irritate the bladder, causing an increase in the frequency to urinate. It may be that once your body returns to normal post-birth, that these foods and drinks will no longer irritate your bladder.
If it carries on…?
Your body can take six to eight weeks to recover after giving birth. If urinary incontinence lasts longer than this, seek medical help.
Incontinence is not an inevitable part of being a new mum. Just because you experience some level of urinary incontinence in pregnancy does not mean it will carry on in the longer term. If you have any concerns, always seek medical help.
HARTMANN Direct have a range of incontinence products for both men and women. No matter what level of absorbency you need, they have a product that fits.