Growing a human is hard work, our amazing bodies go through a lot during those 9 long months of pregnancy. There are lots of side effects to being pregnant, some good and some, well, not so good. The best thing about pregnancy is that you get a beautiful baby at the end of it all but a lot of things happen before we get to that magical moment. When you are pregnant you have to deal with raging hormone, weight gain, aches and pains and also the risk of incontinence. The fear of accidently wetting yourself when you are pregnant is very real, with all that pressure on your pelvic floor, things like sneezing or laughing too hard can all too easily end up with a little leakage. Who ever told you pregnancy was glamorous was lying! Don’t worry though, incontinence doesn’t have to become a part of your life just because you are pregnant, Hartman Direct have put together this really useful article on how to manage incontinence during pregnancy so you can spend more time enjoying those baby kicks and less worrying about where the nearest loo is.
How to manage incontinence during pregnancy
When you think about being pregnant, the chances are that all your attention is on your growing bump. No matter how wonderful carrying your unborn child undoubtedly is, there are some less pleasant aspects to contend with too.
Incontinence isn’t something most women think about in advance, but it can be a common problem during pregnancy. Here’s a closer look at how to manage incontinence during pregnancy with some practical tips to help.
Why Incontinence Occurs
If you’ve never accidentally leaked in the past, you may well think that incontinence in pregnancy is a problem that you won’t have to face. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You don’t need to have a history of incontinence issues to find yourself affected during pregnancy.
The issue arises from the strength of your pelvic floor. If you’ve never had any urinary or bowel continence difficulties, it’s a subject that you might not know too much about.
The pelvic floor is a sheet of tissue which stretches from the front of the body through to the back, supporting areas such as the womb, vagina, bladder and bowel. If you’re a healthy weight with no medical problems, you might never need to think about your pelvic floor. Until now.
When you’re pregnant this super-stretchy sling of tissue is put under a huge amount of pressure. The pelvic floor is very bouncy, but such a large amount of weight sustained for a long period of time is a big challenge. If you don’t put in some extra work to strengthen your pelvic floor, it is unlikely to be able to cope with the added weight of the baby.
This results in incontinence occurring in varying degrees.
Take Practical Steps
Incontinence during pregnancy is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s something that many women experience, and doctors will be very familiar with the issue.
If it happens regularly you might want to wear incontinence pads. These are very light and discreet and far more comfortable than most sanitary pads. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to give up on the idea of tackling the incontinence completely. Incontinence pads just provide you with the support and confidence you need in the meantime.
Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and it’s important not to get too worried about what you weigh. Trying to stay within healthy limits is a good idea though; your midwife will be able to let you know how you’re doing. Carrying surplus weight above and beyond what’s expected will add to the pressure on your pelvic floor and can make incontinence worse.
Don’t be tempted to restrict the amount you drink. It may seem to make sense, but it won’t make much difference to any leakage and you’ll just become dehydrated. Not drinking enough can also cause urinary tract infections, and that can make incontinence worse.
Steer clear of foods and drinks which can irritate the bladder. These include citrus, coffee, tomatoes and alcohol. Avoiding these will help to cut down on the number of leaks.
Don’t Neglect Your Exercises
During antenatal classes you will be shown how to do pelvic floor exercises. If you suffer from incontinence, your doctor or midwife may talk to you about these even earlier in your pregnancy. Having to exercise your pelvic floor may seem like a hassle but it’s the most important thing you can do to tackle incontinence.
If you need a reminder of how to carry out the exercises, you’ll find plenty of videos online with more detailed explanations about how to check if you’re doing them correctly. The more you practice the exercises, the stronger your pelvic floor will get and in the long term you’ll be thankful you made the effort. You can do them anywhere and just a few minutes several times a day could make a huge difference.
Strengthening your pelvic floor when you’re pregnant provides more than just a temporary advantage. The weight of your baby can cause long-term incontinence issues and even lead to loss of vaginal sensation during sex. Tightening up your pelvic floor could help to prevent or reduce the longer-term consequences.
Be Sure It’s Incontinence
Finally, one word of warning. If you suffer from incontinence during pregnancy, it’s easy to assume that any kind of leakage is urine. A quick sniff should confirm that this is the case but it’s a good idea to check. If the fluid is clear and without any odour, there’s a small chance it could be amniotic fluid. If this is the case, you’ll need to be seen by your doctor without any delay. The latter is unlikely, and by contrast, stress incontinence is very common, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.
If you’re suffering from leakage during pregnancy, you could find life made much easier by high quality continence products. Take a look at HARTMANN Direct today for a discreet care range designed just for you.
Did you suffer with incontinence during pregnancy? What did you find helped you to manage it? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This post has been published in collaboration with Hartmann Direct.