Did you have a baby recently and you now pee every time you stand up or laugh? You’re not alone! Urinary incontinence is common among postpartum women and it’s not talked about enough. Here are five important things to know about how birth affects your bladder and what to do about it.
MYTH #1: Women only get urinary incontinence if they had a vaginal birth.
FACT: While women who have a vaginal birth are more likely to get the annoying symptom of peeing every time they laugh, women who had C-sections are still bothered by urinary leakage. Even if a woman had a C-section, she most likely had contractions and may have gone through some of the pushing stage, which affects the vaginal muscles and can lead to incontinence.
MYTH #2: A leaky bladder is normal after birth and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
FACT: There are a wide variety of treatments available to improve your leaky bladder! Just because incontinence is common, does not mean there aren’t any treatments.
Pelvic floor therapy is one important option. What is it? Think of it as physical therapy for the vaginal and pelvic muscles. The vaginal muscles go through a lot of strain and pressure during pregnancy and birth. Getting physical therapy for the vaginal muscles is important for both short-term relief and long-term prevention of incontinence.
MYTH #3: Pelvic floor therapy only helps urinary incontinence.
FACT: Pelvic floor therapy is helpful for a variety of other symptoms like painful intercourse, preventing organ prolapse and moving through birth trauma.
What do I mean by moving through birth trauma? Often, birth does not go as planned, which can lead to a feeling of emptiness or other emotional trauma for the mother. Practitioners who use Holistic Pelvic Floor Therapy© can help women mindfully release this tension and help the mamas be at peace with their birth story.
MYTH #4: Kegels are the best way to prevent urinary incontinence and everyone should be doing them during pregnancy and after giving birth.
FACT: Kegels are not for everyone, and they are not a cure-all. Doing kegel exercises can actually be causing more leakage. The reason? Often, urinary leakage is actually caused from pelvic muscles being too tight. Kegels are a form of exercise to help tone the vaginal muscles, essentially make them tighter. If you have leakage because your muscles are already tight and you continue doing kegels, you could be making the problem worse.
MYTH #5: As long as you don’t have incontinence, you don’t need pelvic floor therapy.
FACT: Pelvic floor therapy should be a part of everyone’s postpartum care. In fact, in countries like France, it is! Your vaginal muscles have gone through a lot of strain both during pregnancy and the birthing process. Your body has also had a lot of hormonal changes which can affect your muscles.
In my practice, I often see women who have older kids start to present with urinary incontinence and organ prolapse – both of which could be prevented with pelvic floor therapy in the early postpartum time. Six weeks is the earliest recommendation, and anytime after that (as long as your doctor says okay) is a good time to start pelvic floor therapy. Even if you aren’t interested in getting pelvic floor therapy regularly, I recommend every postpartum mama get one pelvic floor evaluation.
Does some of this sound familiar ? Interested in pelvic floor therapy?
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Dr. Potter is passionate about supporting and caring for the health and well-being of postpartum women. What is the postpartum period you may ask? Dr. Potter loosely defines it as “if your kids aren’t sleeping through the night or they are in diapers, then you’re postpartum”. Her clinic in Portland focuses on helping women navigate their wellness throughout this tender and special time. Dr. Potter is also a nutritionist and is trained in Holistic Pelvic Floor Therapy©. Follow her on Instagram @drangelapotter. Find out more information about appointments on her website www.drangelapotter.com/postpartum.