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One giant miracle and one tiny surprise
One out of three have trouble controlling their bladder after childbirth. This is perfectly natural. But it is not something many talk about. There is help.
7% of all first-time mothers who had a vaginal childbirth experienced stress incontinence after their first delivery according to a survey published in Obstet Gynecol (1992).
The most perfect little baby lies resting in your arms after nine months. It’s incredible. Was that you inside? It is a moment of absolute tranquillity when you, as you sit face to face with your baby, come to realise that nothing will ever again be the same. You are a mother.
When you greet your baby for the first time childbirth is behind you. You know it takes between 6 and 8 weeks to heal because your midwife told you. Maybe she mentioned contraction exercises? That you might experience some leakage? Your friends probably haven’t said anything. Instead, it has been more along the lines of “Congratulations, it’s fabulous” and “Forget about getting a full night of sleep from now on”…. It is unfortunate because many of them probably can relate to what you are now experiencing.
Because when you go for a quick walk with the baby carriage a tiny amount of urine leaks out. When you bend over and pick up your baby, you leak. When you really have to go to the bathroom (because you haven’t had time before because you were breastfeeding, changing diapers and soothing an inconsolable baby), you can no longer contract your muscles and a few drops trickle out before you make it to the toilet. What’s this? And nine months later you discover: You had a giant miracle and a tiny surprise.
“I was surprised first, then irritated. When it didn’t stop I became pretty concerned,”
One woman tells us.
About one in three women experience bladder weakness after their pregnancy since the pelvic floor muscles have been stretched. All the ligaments are stretched from the weight of the uterus. If you had a prolonged childbirth or if your baby was big then your muscles were stretched even further. Now your pelvic muscles need exercise to regain their original strength.
Maybe she mentioned contraction exercises? That you might experience some leakage? Your friends probably haven’t said anything.
Practically all women who do pelvic muscle exercises regain full or near-full control.
“Your [midwife] will check that you are contracting the right muscles during a check-up. Tell your healthcare provider that you are experiencing leakage, so you can work together to find the best solution for you and what to do next,” says Midwife from The Clinic.
Leakage, regardless of how little, is a cause of constant concern.
“I was afraid someone would notice – there is an odour and what if it shows,” says A Woman.
Many try toilet paper or panty liners but that is not always sufficient. You just don’t feel as fresh. The same applies for a regular sanitary towel.
“It is better to use a protection made to handle urine leakage. TENA Lady Ultra Mini and TENA Lady Mini are for example just as thin and discreet as panty liners and sanitary towels. TENA Lady Mini however absorbs twice as much and retains wetness four times better then a leading thin sanitary towel. It´s desinged to give you long-lasting dryness. You can buy TENA Lady Ultra Mini, TENA Lady Mini and TENA Lady Mini Plus in your food store,” says A Name, urologist/midwife.
Bladder weakness can also occur during pregnancy. The weight of the uterus presses on the bladder and the entire pelvic muscle. This makes it difficult to contract the muscles when you have to exert yourself for various reasons. Now is a good time to start contraction exercises. You will be doing yourself a big favour. You will benefit later and can prevent bigger bladder problems. Give your pelvic muscles ten minutes morning and night. Exercising will teach you to control your muscles, which should be totally relaxed when the baby comes out. It is a myth that you can over-train your pelvic muscles and thereby make childbirth more difficult.