How to Manage Pregnancy Incontinence?

Incontinence is the leaking of urine from the bladder. With urinary incontinence very common, especially among the aging, twice the cases exist among women. Bladder control problems arise during pregnancy and even after childbirth because of physical changes. According to one authority, 53 percent of women reported incontinence during pregnancy and after giving birth. In a study of 500 healthy women, most suffered incontinence at various stages across the trimesters.

Urinating frequently is an early indication of pregnancy and incontinence prevails rather commonly. The incontinence may continue after delivery for a few weeks or beyond. Embarrassment is natural and travels become difficult. The basic cause is easy to understand. Pregnancy leads to an additional weight on the pelvic region and bladder that gradually increases over the weeks and months. In incontinence, the involuntary release of urine takes place which could have several factors. Investigating the possible causes and how they can be managed helps find a solution. Try to find some solutions first. Preventions could also help.

How to Control the Bladder?

Some common-sense approaches help show the way. It is obvious that being overweight stresses the bladder more. After birth, the bladder finds relief.

  • Further, restricting the fluids at dinner time helps to avoid trips to the bathroom at night.

  • Increase the fiber content of foods to avoid constipation which can also result in urinary incontinence.

  • Excessive carbonated drinks along with tea and coffee result in more frequent urination. Take water or decaffeinated beverages.

  • Record the instances of urinary leakage. If it is a set time like 11 am, avoid the leakage by going to the bathroom earlier.

Risk Factors

It is generally known that increasing age gives rise to urinary incontinence. Age and body weight do contribute. Some women may suffer from an overactive bladder that gets worse during pregnancy. A history of previous pelvic surgery may be the cause. Maybe it is the smoking habit that causes severe coughing and stress on the bladder. A previous vaginal delivery could stress the bladder and cause incontinence.

Even after childbirth, while the burden on the bladder is relieved, incontinence may arise. The nerves and muscles may suffer an injury during vaginal delivery. The labor may be prolonged. Comparatively, the authorities believe that cesarean delivery results in controlled incontinence initially for the first year.

Kegel Exercise as Preventive or cure

A highly recommended simple exercise that costs nothing but brings certain benefits. Completely safe, it works well before, after, and during pregnancy too. Kegels may be called pelvic floor exercises. They strengthen the muscles involved in the uterus, bladder, and bowels. The exercises help relax the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for delivery and after. Kegels help heal the perineal tissues after birth. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and urinary control increases.

Focus on the muscles that control urine flow and the muscles that release gas from the rectum. Manipulate both muscles as if holding back urine and gas. Pelvic floor muscle tightening achieves it. Avoid moving the abdominal or leg and buttock muscles. Nothing could be simpler and nobody knows. Practice each day. Tighten and hold for 10 seconds and relax. Do it 15 times.

Patterns of Urinary Incontinence

Along with the obvious additional pressure on the balder during pregnancy, a few other kinds of urinary incontinence are observed.

  • Transient or temporary incontinence caused by a UTI, constipation, or medication.

  • Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anxiety medicines, or stroke.

  • Stress or physical pressure on the bladder cause incontinence.

  • Changes in hormones affect the bladder and urethra lining.

  • Pressure during exercise or a sneeze, laughing, or cough.

  • Bladder contractions generate an urgent need to urinate.

  • When pressure and urgency happen together, incontinence may result.

  • A family history of urinary incontinence.

  • Having reached the age of 35 years or beyond.

  • An intense smoking habit.

  • Vaginal delivery in the past.

  • Higher than recommended weight gain in pregnancy.

Urine or Amniotic Fluid?

Testing would reveal the truth. Common sense should clear up the mystery. Sporadic leaking in tiny quantities would quite definitely be urine. In the case of amniotic fluid, the quantity that leaks is frequently much bigger. While urine is usually almost colorless, amniotic fluid may be greenish or white.

Understand the Anatomy Better

Located just above the pelvic bones, the urinary bladder gets the support of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles work very hard in pregnancy and delivery. In a relaxed condition, the bladder fills with urine after it is produced. A sphincter closes the bladder and prevents spills until the urine is released in the bathroom. The sphincter opens to release urine. The urethra requires consideration too with the relaxed muscles allowing the urine to flow out of the body. After urination is complete, the urethra muscles contract, and the flow stops.

Hormonal changes occur during pregnancy. The urethra opening and closing change with the added pressure of the fetus rapidly increasing in size and weight. The bladder bears greater weight. At this stage, even walking, a cough, or sneezing may result in incontinence.

Guard Against STIs and Treat them

Urinary tract infections often lead to incontinence. Statistics reveal that as many as 35% of women who had untreated UTI developed incontinence during pregnancy. Incontinence is very often a symptom of UTI. If any doubt arises, get tested and treated for UTIs. A urine sample undergoes lab testing to detect UTIs. Antibiotics need to be taken for a few days. They do not harm the unborn baby.

How to Prevent UTIs?

  • Ample hydration that might include 6-8 glasses of water each day

  • Hygienic underwear changed each day

  • Loose cotton dresses help

  • Pass urine before and after sex sessions

  • Wash and wipe well after urination

Dangers of Untreated UTIs

Left untreated, UTIs often lead to complicated medical conditions. The result may be a kidney infection that leads to early labor. The baby may suffer from minimal weight. Amidst UTI, refrain from sexual intercourse. Avoid holding urine for too long. Don’t take much liquids, alcohol, and sugar that irritate the bladder. Only use gentle soaps and powders.

Seek Help for the Problem

Stretched pelvic muscles may result in incontinence after birth and much beyond. Speak up and seek help. A survey shows that 50 percent of women continued with the problem after childbirth. Those who did not experience incontinence during pregnancy have lesser chances post-partum. A few simple steps would control and lessen the incontinence problem.

Updated on: 29-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started