How common is incontinence after childbirth?

If you’ve experienced incontinence during your pregnancy you’ll know that it isn’t the best feeling! You may be worried that it could continue after childbirth. Though there are plenty of options such as incontinence pads to help deal with that eventuality if it happens, it’s not ideal, especially with a new baby.


Let’s look into how and why incontinence may or may not continue after childbirth, and how you can manage the issue.


In what circumstances is incontinence likely to continue after you give birth?

There are two types of incontinence that you may experience – stress incontinence or urge incontinence.  Stress incontinence is when you experience a leak during even a small physical exertion such as coughing, running, jumping or laughing. The leakage occurs due to the pressure that the physical activity, small as it may be, puts on your bladder.

Most women who experience stress incontinence also often have to endure urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is the result of an overactive bladder, and you will find yourself feeling the need to go and leaking even when your bladder is empty.

Incontinence is more common in pregnant women who are over 35 or obese. It is also more likely to continue after childbirth for those who have had a vaginal delivery. Those who have had a C-section are less likely to experience it.

If you’ve gone through a labour where there has been the use of forceps, this is very likely to result in incontinence after childbirth as your pelvic muscles get affected. This can be rectified somewhat by specific exercises which will be discussed in further detail below.


Is there a way to prevent your incontinence carrying on after childbirth?

It’s important to note that the answer to preventing incontinence after childbirth is not a C-section. There is no guarantee that a C-section will completely prevent it.  C-sections also pose various other risks which require serious consideration, for both mum and baby.

Often, ongoing incontinence is a condition that has been passed down genetically. Our recommendation is to perform Kegel exercises to start getting your pelvic muscles in shape. These are not as effective during pregnancy, but after childbirth they can help to reduce both types of incontinence.

Kegel exercises will help by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support your uterus and bladder. Kegel exercises can be done anytime and anywhere, though it is recommended that you do them lying down. It is a quick and easy exercise, with the simple steps as below:

Tighten and hold your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds and relax the muscles for five minutes. As you do more repetitions, try and progress to 10 seconds of contraction at a time. We’d recommend doing the Kegel exercises around 3 times a day, in sets of 10 repetitions.

Some women choose to hire a personal trainer after their birth, once recovery has taken place of course, so that they can get their bodies back to normal after carrying another person inside them for 9 months. While trainers may not be in everybody’s price bracket as they are paid by the hour to the tune of £25, there’s no harm in seeking one or two sessions where you can find out specific exercises related to pelvic floor muscles and then continue on your own free of charge.


If you can’t reduce your incontinence, how do you deal with it?

If you still find that your incontinence is persisting and disrupting your life, it is possible to be fitted for a pessary. This is a tiny ring made of silicone which can be placed inside your vagina to prevent leakage through the day. Some women may choose to use this only when embarking upon physical activity.

If you’re finding that the situation is really affecting your life negatively, surgical options are available. There is ‘bladder sling’ surgery which has a high success rate. It is only valid if you are not planning on getting pregnant again. Within this surgery, your doctor will insert a sling inside you to offer support to your urethra.

If you’re not yet at the stage where you feel you require surgery, there are a range of other incontinence support products available for women such as incontinence pads and pants.

Hartmann Direct offers an extensive range of incontinence products and supplies, in different absorbencies and sizes. Find out more online or call 0800 028 9470.


Disclaimer – this post was written in collaboration with HARTMANN Direct


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