Peeing Your Pants? The Truth About Incontinence After Baby
Ah, incontinence. I always thought it was for old people, but then I got pregnant and realized I was seriously wrong about that! Then I thought it would go away after giving birth—afterall, wasn’t it just caused by the baby putting so much pressure on my bladder? Whoops, wrong again. And of course I realized that my postpartum incontinence was a problem in one of the most embarrassing ways possible. Imagine this: I was finally feeling good enough to go running after giving birth, and so excited to have a little time to myself. I threw on my comfy yoga pants, bolted out the door, and then just a few blocks later, found myself peeing down the leg of those very same yoga pants as I jogged merrily down the street. Part of me wanted to laugh, all of me wanted to cry, but most of all, I just wanted my body fixed! As I found myself searching Amazon for some little Depends (you’ll know what an unattainable dream that is if you’ve ever had to wear them!), I knew I had to take charge and do something.
If my story sounds way too familiar, you are not alone in the slightest. After a little research, I learned that doctors say roughly fifty percent of women will experience some kind of incontinence related to their pregnancy or after giving birth. For a lot of those women, those unwanted sprinkles go away within the first year after delivery—but a full one-third to one-half of those women may be experiencing postpartum incontinence a full five years after the main event. And a whopping 20 percent of women who didn’t have urinary problems during their pregnancy have them after vaginal birth. So, since a lot of you are probably in my same slightly wet boat, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in hopes that it’ll help you, too.
What causes postpartum incontinence? That was a big question on my mind, especially since I thought the main culprit (baby!) was already out of the way. Turns out, it depends on what kind of incontinence you’ve got. Yes, there are two kinds of this miserable drip, believe it or not! Stress incontinence is when laughing, coughing, jumping, or running (like me!) makes you leak. It’s caused from all that pressure on your bladder, plus pregnancy hormones that throw your urinary muscles out of whack. Urge incontinence is when you feel like you really need to pee way more often than normal, and sometimes you don’t even make it to the bathroom. That’s caused by an overactive bladder. You can suffer from one or the other—many women actually suffer from both—but no matter what, it’s not fun.
As for what can help? Obviously talking to your doctor could help—and if you don’t feel comfortable telling your doctor about your peeing habits, find a new doctor who you feel more comfortable with right away! In the meantime, there is something you can do at home that might speed your recovery: Plain and simple, you’ve got to do those Kegels to restrengthen pelvic floor muscles. Those are the muscles responsible for holding your bladder in place, and they need to be strong if you want to regain urinary control. If your sprinkle is more like a gush, though, or if it’s gotten worse over time, you may need to see a specialist for extra therapy to strengthen your pelvic floor, so be sure to talk to your doctor and be honest about what’s going on.
Whether you’re leaking a little or a lot, remember that there’s help out there. Wearing pantyliners or Depends isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be this way for the rest of your life.