Why leaks and accidents after baby are common and what to do about them.
You’ve had your baby and you’re figuring out new mom life. Parenting information, advice and stories abound for anything that might come up—save for one thing: peeing your pants. No one tells you you’re likely to pee your pants after having a baby. And yet, most of us will do so. Possibly in public. Probably a few times.
Postpartum urinary incontinence is very common. Pregnancy and delivery both weaken muscles around the bladder and pelvis, which may mean you have a harder time controlling your flow after childbirth. Your swollen uterus also rests on your bladder, adding extra pressure. Known as stress incontinence, this involuntary pee leakage happens when physical movement or activity puts stress on your bladder. So a giggle often leads to a dribble. A cough releases a trickle. And a sneeze can cause a flood. This accidental tinkling can be an issue for weeks or months, even years.
Know that you’re not alone
For Elizabeth in Toronto, trampolining proved to be her nemesis. When her son was three months old, she and her husband went to play trampoline dodgeball. “I took three jumps and immediately wet myself,” she recalls. “No one warned me that peeing yourself was a thing that happens after childbirth, and I was totally caught off guard.” A few years later, a trampolining pee disaster would strike again. At a trampoline park for her 30th birthday, Elizabeth and her fellow mom friends excitedly began bouncing…and leaking. “We all had an ‘oh crap’ look on our faces,” she says. “We just started laughing because we all knew what had happened to each other.” But one of the moms had thought ahead and worn incontinence underwear. “She was happily bouncing around, peeing herself with every little hop, while also staying dry,” laughs Elizabeth, who has not been on a trampoline since.
Similarly for Sara in Calgary, ever since she had kids, her pelvic floor has not been the same. “My kids are 19 months apart, which didn’t give my body a lot of time to heal,” she says. Any sort of strenuous activity like running or lifting something heavy can lead to a pee oopsie. Even laughing isn’t safe as Sara learned at a beer festival with friends. “I was laughing so hard, I started to pee,” she remembers. “There was definitely a wet spot on my sweet spot.” She did her best to dry her jeans with a bathroom hand dryer, and she didn’t let it ruin her night. “I’m a trooper and a little bit of pee in my pants wasn’t going to stop me from having a good time.” She kept calm, made do by stuffing toilet paper in her pants and laughed on.
So what’s a mom to do?
Instead of resorting to toilet paper or avoiding activities that might cause a leak, you can find a number of discreet and effective incontinence liners, pads and underwear from TENA that don’t make you feel like you’ve got a diaper on. (With a baby, you’ve already got more than enough diapers to deal with.) Each product has a different absorbency level to meet your individual needs. You can wear them with confidence and no one will know if you’ve accidentally dribbled.
You can also retrain your bladder to ease incontinence by keeping a regular bathroom schedule (known as timed voiding), and gradually increasing the time between visits. But be careful of holding your pee for too long; doing so can worsen incontinence because it strains your bladder muscles over time.
And of course, doing tried-and-true Kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic floor to prevent leaks—particularly effective for stress incontinence. If leakage persists, talk to your doctor. They can recommend a pelvic floor specialist who can ensure your condition is properly diagnosed and treated—and that you’re doing the exercises correctly.
For Jennifer in Toronto, pelvic exercises have been game changing. “The involuntary peeing when I sneezed went away with pelvic exercises,” she affirms, but she can’t get blasé about doing them. “It comes back if I don’t keep up. Pelvic floor therapy provides a ‘pee solution’ for those who find that to be a challenge. There’s no shame in it.”
No shame. No wetness. Win-win. To learn more, visit tena.ca.