Are you a new mom or planning to be one in the near future? If so, you’ve probably heard or read about the risk of postpartum incontinence, as it affects up to 77% of women in the postnatal period.  However, don’t let this scare you! Read this article to understand why these changes are happening and what you can do to prevent them.

Types of incontinence:

The most common types of incontinence after birth are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.  As explained in my previous article, stress incontinence is classified as the inability to control the loss of urine with coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise. Urge incontinence is described as the loss of urine associated with a strong, uncontrollable need to void (i.e. leaking while running to the bathroom ).

Stress incontinence can occur due to weak pelvic floor muscles that are underused or due to muscles that are being chronically contracted and therefore become fatigued from overuse. Urge incontinence on the other hand, can also be caused secondary to weak muscles however is most commonly caused by nerve damage during pregnancy and labour or due to surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy.

Studies show that nine out of ten women with stress urinary incontinence three months after childbirth WILL continue to suffer five years later.  Remember, Incontinence after birth is more common than you think – common but not normal.

So now what? we’ve determined that the reason why you are probably leaking is because your muscles are either too weak or too tight and therefore do not contract properly.  A healthy, functional pelvic floor has a balance between the ability to contract and the ability to relax. A dysfunctional pelvic floor is one that is either too relaxed or too contracted and therefore needs to be addressed.

Remember! Kegels are not for everyone!

Stress incontinence responds well to pelvic floor exercise, postural correction and breathing exercise. The type of exercise will be dependent on if your pelvic floor muscles are weak from underuse or weak from overuse. Many of you have already heard or read about the Kegel exercise which is the standard “go-to” pelvic floor exercise however not many women know how to perform them correctly and for those whose pelvic floor is weak from overuse, Kegels will only make their situation worse.

In the case where  you are not sure what is causing your leakage or if you want to prevent it from happening, consult our registered physiotherapist Svetlana Marianer at smarianer@orthophysio.com or call 416-925-4687 to book an assessment.