Warning, warning! Pregnancy and labour does strange things to your body. Your belly stretches. Your breasts sag. But what about your bladder?
Well, your bladder pretty much gives up on everything. It can become sad, leaky and lazy. And you will pay the price for it. By accidentally peeing your pants. Often.
This is a mummy truth I wasn’t aware of. Until I sneezed. Or coughed. Or tried to go for a run with a drop of water in my bladder. And don’t even get me started on attempting to bounce on a trampoline…
After several months I came to the conclusion that my bladder has paid the ultimate price for the fruits of my labours. It is now weak, tired and unmotivated to even try anymore. I feel bad for it, to be honest. My trusty ol’ bladder used to be able to hold like two litres of Passion Pop and dance half the night without needing to be emptied. Now it’s barely a shadow of its former fluid-holding self.
But it’s not just my bladder that decided to retire right after childbirth. Bladder leakage after having a baby is actually a super common medical condition with a fancy name – urinary incontinence. Which has a much nicer ring to it than, “Shit, I think I just peed my pants… again”.
May our pants be dry, even after we sneeze!
There’s some super good news for mums who also need to cross their legs anytime they feel a sneeze come on – you can train your bladder to regain its former glory. Here are a few easy bladder leakage control lifestyle changes to take on board.
1. Eliminate your need to cough.
In other words, quit smoking. Because smoking leads to coughing, which leads to bladder leakage. If you’re going to cough or sneeze, brace yourself. Clutch those pelvic floor muscles!
2. Embrace the Kegel
Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with those Kegel exercises people are always crapping on about. I know. They sound lame. But apparently they work. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Repeat for infinity.
You can actually pick up products to help “workout” this muscle group. Like mini vaginal barbells, weights and balls. I can’t say I’ve tried them. But, hey, they might be worth a go?
Or perhaps the Vagina FitBit, also known as Elvie, is more your style. It’s a pelvic floor exerciser and app. You insert and it does the rest, allowing you to keep track of your daily exercises through your smartphone. Technology. Where would we be without you? Weeing ourselves in public, that’s where.
4. Keep it slow
Avoid high impact activities for a little while. Like pounding the pavement or skipping rope.
5. Protect, protect, protect!
Look for undies and shorts with extra protection. Modibodi are good ones. There are also some great recovery and exercise shorts on the market that can help with bladder leakage, such as EVB. Wearing tight-fitting shorts is the only way my bladder behaves when I jog.
6. Give caffeine the heave-ho
Reduce your caffeine and carbonated beverage intake. Both irritate the bladder. *Slowly puts down the triple espresso.*
7. See the wee
Visualise your bladder behaving. According to a study in the Journal of Urology, meditating is another good method to help regain control of your bladder. Take a few minutes every day to focus on the mind-bladder connection and will your bladder to sort its shit out and stop leaking all the time.
8. Pee before play
If you are planning on hitting the gym or running around at the park, empty your bladder beforehand to reduce any risks. Just like you make the kids do before you take them ANYWHERE.
9. See your doctor.
Although urinary incontinence is common for women (around 45% admit to experiencing it after having a baby), it’s not normal. It means your pelvic floor and bladder are not coping and it should be discussed with a doctor. There are medical treatment options available including surgery, but only a doctor can tell if this is the right path for you to take.
What else can you expect from your body after having a baby? Peeing your pants is only one of the many surprises in store! Have a look at these additional messed up things no one seems to mention about motherhood.