Postpartum Urinary Incontinence: What Is It & Remedies With Expert Input
Urinary incontinence is a common postpartum health condition. While some women are able to overcome it in a few weeks, for others, it can last for longer and need medical intervention.
Do you know one in three new mothers tend to suffer from postpartum urinary incontinence? This begins within a few weeks after the birth of the baby. In simple terms, urinary incontinence is a postpartum condition where the new mother loses bladder control. This further leads to occasional urine leakage through the day. We spoke to Dr. Jyoti Bhaskar, Additional Director - Obstetrics & Gynecology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Patparganj & Noida, about this common postpartum health ailment.
What Is Urinary Incontinence?
It is an accidental or involuntary passage of a few drops or small amounts of urine from the bladder. There are two types of urinary incontinence that the new mother goes through. One, when she loses urine when she laughs, sneezes or walks. This is referred to as stress incontinence. The other one is quite common and is called the urge incontinence. This is when the bladder is full and the woman wants to use the loo. However, even before she reaches the loo, a few drops of urine tend to pass involuntarily.
Why Does It Happen?
Our expert said, "During pregnancy, there is a surge of a hormone called progesterone that tends to relax the smooth muscles of both the bladder, uterus. This causes the stretching and relaxation of these important muscles. Further, during a normal delivery, as the baby tends to descend and come through the vaginal canal, all the pelvic muscles tend to get stretched, that's when the vagina too gets stretched. A combined effect of the hormones and the stretching leads to urinary incontinence. This takes place for a few days or weeks after a normal or sometimes the third caesarean deliveries."
Treatment For Urinary Incontinence
Immediately after delivery, a woman should do perennial or pelvic floor or kegel exercises. Before discharge, new mothers are trained on how they can perform these exercises by the physiotherapist. These should be carried out daily. These tend to strengthen the muscles of the perineum and over time help with urinary incontinence.
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Simple lifestyle changes like losing your pregnancy weight, eating more fibre, drinking more water and avoiding lifting heavy weights can help treat urinary incontinence naturally.
When you are pregnant, your baby grows and puts pressure on your bladder which is why you have the urge to pee again and again. Once you have delivered your baby, it is essential to train your bladder to hold your urine and use the washroom once in two to three hours.
If none of these treatments work for the new mother, medications can be suggested to treat urinary incontinence. In extreme cases, especially for the stress, incontinence may be required.
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Taking physiotherapy classes while you are pregnant helps women strengthen their pelvic floor muscles which then after delivery helps prevent urinary incontinence. However, during pregnancy, women should ensure that they don't lift heavy weights and avoid doing strenuous exercises.
Urinary incontinence tends to resolve in a few weeks. However, if it doesn't and continues after a month or two-three months after delivery, it is important that the woman consult a gynaecologist or obstetrician.