We all know two things about having a baby: that it’s one of the most miraculous things we can experience as humans, and that pregnancy and giving birth can wreak absolute havoc on our bodies.
Urinary incontinence is one of many potential side effects of giving vaginal birth. During labor and delivery, the muscles around the bladder may become strained, stretched, or even torn. Post-childbirth incontinence is a relatively common problem that often goes away on its own as your body heals.
Though it’s a more extreme solution than the others on this list, vaginoplasty surgery can help address incontinence by tightening the muscles around the vagina and giving you better control of your bladder. There are several minimally invasive options when it comes to vaginoplasty procedures. Obviously, you’ll want to have a thorough conversation with both your doctor and your surgeon before deciding whether vaginoplasty is right for you.
Kegel exercises involve tightening and releasing your pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder. Performing these exercises during pregnancy has been shown to reduce childbirth-related incontinence by strengthening the muscles around your pelvis. You can do Kegels just about anywhere, which makes them an easy and convenient way to address incontinence issues.
Want to make your Kegel routine more hardcore? There are several types of vaginal weights on the market that are designed to increase the effectiveness of the exercises.
The thought of going on a diet right after childbirth is virtually unbearable. Your body has just undergone an incredible trauma; why would you restrict yourself from consuming the things you love?
The fact is, there are certain foods and beverages that are known to irritate the bladder, potentially worsening existing symptoms of incontinence. These include caffeinated beverages, alcohol, citrus fruits, sodas, chocolate, and spicy foods. Removing these ingredients from your diet while you recover from childbirth might help you regain control of your bladder.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend physical therapy as a way to strengthen your muscles and reduce post-childbirth incontinence. A trained physical therapist will be able to spot troubles or weaknesses in the relevant muscle groups, such as your pelvic and abdominal muscles. Your therapist will then prescribe specific exercises designed to strengthen those muscle groups. With a stronger core and pelvic floor, you’ll find you have improved control over your urination and are less likely to experience incontinence.
Weight gained during pregnancy can also lead to incontinence by creating pressure on the bladder. Your physical therapist can help you develop an exercise regimen that will allow you to lose your baby weight in a safe and healthy manner, decreasing the likelihood of post-birth incontinence.
If you were a regular smoker before becoming pregnant, don’t reach for the cigarettes after you’ve given birth. Aside from its other detriments, nicotine is a known urinary tract irritant that causes the muscles that control the bladder to spasm, worsening symptoms of incontinence.
Additionally, smoking can cause you to develop a chronic cough, which can lead to further leakage.
Remember, You’re Not Alone
Many women who go through vaginal childbirth end up experiencing incontinence to some degree. There are many steps you can take to ease the symptoms of incontinence while your body heals. Talk to your doctor about trying these potential ways to address loss of bladder control after childbirth.