Managing Postpartum Urinary Incontinence in New Moms: Strategies for Recovery and Confidence
Having a baby is a beautiful, exciting, crazy, and stressful time for new moms. All of your focus immediately goes to your new bundle of joy. And there’s plenty to take care of: feeding, sleeping, changing, and getting used to an entirely new routine. But your body is also going through some major changes that may require your attention.
The trauma of childbirth on your body can contribute to experiencing bleeding, bladder leaks, and other health problems surrounding your bladder. You’re not alone if you notice it’s harder to control your bathroom trips after becoming a new mom.
Many women experience postpartum urinary incontinence that ranges from mild to moderate. In a recent study from 2021, over 24% of women revealed that they had some form of UI after having a baby. But you don’t have to accept that urinary incontinence is just the reality of becoming a mom.
Managing postpartum urinary incontinence in new moms can be challenging. But don’t worry; and there are plenty of strategies to help treat urinary incontinence as your body continues recovering after childbirth so you can regain your confidence.
What is Postpartum Incontinence?
As your body prepares for the birth of a new baby, your organs do a lot of adjusting during the last stages. More pressure is placed on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, often causing them to weaken.
The joints surrounding your hip bones become looser, and your cervix stretches. During childbirth, all of the muscles and bones stretch as well, and it can take more than the allotted six weeks for your body to recover fully.
Your body continues to go through hormone changes that directly affect your bladder. When your uterus begins to shrink to its original size, it puts extra pressure on your bladder muscles, often resulting in urinary leakage.
You might experience loss of bladder control when laughing, sneezing, coughing, or lifting something heavy. Some women have the feeling or urge to go to the bathroom far more often. Take note of your symptoms, practice self-care, and work on managing the problems.
Managing Postpartum Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence can take weeks or months to go away after pregnancy. Regaining bladder control doesn’t happen quickly, but there are plenty of things you can do to help manage it, which include the following:
- Invest in bladder control pads: There are plenty of incontinence underwear designed for women to help absorb any leaks you have and help you feel more confident when you’re out in public. Consider investing in some while you temporarily deal with the effects of urinary incontinence after childbirth so you don’t have to worry or embarrassment.
- Train your bladder: As you begin your recovery, learning to retrain your bladder to function more appropriately is important. You can start by going to the bathroom every thirty minutes and gradually increasing the time between your visits. Over time, you can work up to longer intervals and hold it longer without leaks.
- Kegal exercises: Kegal exercises work to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and support the bladder and uterus. You must locate the muscles that tighten as you’d hold in your urine to do them. Don’t squeeze your thighs or buttocks since those don’t target the pelvic floor.
- For the best results, hold the kegal for up to five seconds, then rest for five, then repeat. If you do it for 10 repetitions and do it a few times each day, it will help improve your bladder control.
- Drink water: You may think that it’s counterproductive to drink fluids if you have to pee, but if you drink less water, you become dehydrated, and it can lead to more bladder problems, like an infection. Drink enough fluid throughout the day so you can keep fluid moving through your system. The recommended daily amount is six to eight glasses.
- Reduce the caffeine and alcohol: Bladder irritants go beyond just caffeine and alcohol, and it’s in your best interest to limit the amount you drink or eat. Spicy foods and teas aggravate the bladder and can make accidents occur. Smoking is another irritant of the bladder and can contribute to symptoms that make leaks more likely.
- Weight loss and healthy diet: If you’re obese or overweight, it can put extra pressure on your bladder. Don’t take this as meaning you need to lose the weight immediately after giving birth but work on returning to a healthy weight one day at a time. Your diet is crucial to helping your bladder return to normal, so ensure you get enough nutrients in your fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains.
Rebuild Your Self-Esteem
The most important part of dealing with urinary incontinence after childbirth is not to shy away and be afraid to talk about it. It could be helpful to join an online support group or speak to other moms going through the same problem.
The more you can talk about it, the easier you’ll have to deal with and manage it. Your body image and self-esteem are on high alert after having a baby, which the arrival of postpartum UI can exacerbate.
Some women take the shame of incontinence and become introverted, stressed out, and even depressed. Coupled with postpartum depression, another common occurrence after the arrival of a baby, you may feel isolated and stop participating in events and activities.
Your emotional well-being is at risk, but you can manage this with simple steps. Take breaks, talk to family or friends, add some exercise, get enough sleep, and pay attention to your nutrition. If you’re experiencing worsening thoughts or mental anguish, you must consult a doctor or healthcare professional immediately.
Talk To Your Doctor About Postpartum UI
If you are dealing with incontinence symptoms after childbirth, make sure to mention it to your doctor. A medical professional can provide an effective treatment plan and methods for managing your symptoms.
Sometimes, your problems may require serious treatment, such as medication or even surgery. So, you must ensure you tell your doctor about all of the symptoms you’re experiencing pertaining to your urinary incontinence to ensure that it isn’t a more severe condition.
Managing incontinence as a new mom can be stressful since you focus so much on your newborn and routine. But you should ensure you pay attention to your incontinence problems and address what you can manage and address them while recovering confidently.