Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know About It
During pregnancy and childbirth, your body goes through annoying physical and hormonal changes. Have you heard about urinary pregnancy incontinence? An involuntary urine leak is a common complaint of pregnant women and new mothers.
What Is Pregnancy Incontinence?
Incontinence is common during pregnancy. It may be infrequent or mild for some women, and can be more severe for others. The embarrassing problem of leaking urine during pregnancy usually goes away after the childbirth. However, in some cases, incontinence can also continue after pregnancy.
Different Types Of Urinary Incontinence
1. Stress Incontinence:
Stress incontinence (SI) is the most common type of urinary incontinence experienced during pregnancy. It happens due to an increased pressure on the bladder. In stress incontinence, the bladder sphincter does not function well enough to hold the urine in the bladder.
2. Pressure On The Bladder:
The bladder sphincter is a muscle that controls the flow of urine. During pregnancy, the uterus puts pressure on the bladder. The extra pressure on the bladder overwhelms the muscles in the sphincter, causing a leakage of urine.
3. Loose Pelvic Muscles Due To Multiple Pregnancies:
Women who have had multiple pregnancies will find themselves leaking urine often. It is primarily due to loose pelvic floor muscles. Large babies, previous vaginal birth or tearing can also contribute to urinary incontinence.
4. Overactive Bladder:
Urinary incontinence during pregnancy can also be due to an overactive bladder. Women who have an overactive bladder tend to urinate more than usual because of uncontrollable spasms. The condition affects the muscles surrounding the tube through which the urine passes from the bladder. These muscles prevent urine from leaving the body, but a strong contraction of the bladder may make you feel the urge to urinate often.
Urinary Incontinence After Pregnancy
Post pregnancy, the urinary incontinence may continue because a childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles. It results in an overactive bladder. Bladder problems can also be due to the following conditions:
- Damage to the bladder nerves.
- Moving of the urethra and bladder during the pregnancy.
- A cut or an episiotomy made in the pelvic floor muscle during delivery.
One of the best ways to prevent urinary incontinence is to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscle during pregnancy and post childbirth. There are a number of tips and techniques to strengthen the pelvic muscles during pregnancy. Some include:
1. The Behavioral Method:
Behavioral methods such as bladder training or timed voiding can help in treating urinary incontinence during and after pregnancy. You can easily follow these techniques at home. These changes in habits do not have any serious side effects.
a. Time Voiding:
To practice time voiding, keep a track of the times you urinate and when you experience leakage of urine. It will give you an idea of your urine leakage “pattern”. The technique will avoid leakage in the future by going to the bathroom at those times.
b. Bladder Training:
In bladder training, you have to delay the intervals at which you go to the bathroom. For example- plan going to the bathroom once in an hour. Then change the schedule by going to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Then eventually, lengthen the time interval up to 4 hours between subsequent bathroom visits. You can also try to postpone your visit to the bathroom for 15 minutes. Do this for two weeks and then increase it to 30 minutes.
2. Kegel Exercises:
Kegel exercises are another way to control urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises tighten and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. To perform the Kegel exercises, relax the thighs, abdominal muscles, and buttocks. Then tighten the pelvic floor muscles and count until ten. Do these exercises at least ten times a day.
3. Absorbent Pads:
Wearing a panty liner or absorbent pads can absorb urine and help you avoid those awkward wet spots. Make sure you carry an extra pad to change and feel fresh all day.
Contact Your Doctor
Remember, you have to treat the problem of urinary incontinence at the earliest to prevent it from becoming a long-term health complication. Contact your doctor immediately:
- If you experience a tingling sensation when the urine leaks.
- If there is a strong, unusual odor.
- If you have an urge to use the bathroom immediately after emptying the bladder.
- If you pass blood in your urine.
- If you notice a yellow or dark orange colored urine.