What is common among most pregnant women? The unanimous answer would be an overactive bladder also known as pregnancy incontinence. It is an involuntary loss of urine that happens in most pregnant women due the pressure and stress experienced on the bladder as the baby grows within. The incontinence may be mild to moderate to extreme in some pregnant women. A study has found out that the severity of the overactive bladder (OAB) during pregnancy largely depends on the age and body mass index. This can even continue for a few days to weeks after childbirth.
Urinary incontinence is not just limited to pregnancy but your bladder can experience over activeness after you reach your 40s. However, in today’s article, we are going to focus on pregnancy incontinence and how you can manage the situation though not completely cure it due to biological circumstances.
OAB during pregnancy and after childbirth:
OAB in pregnancy can be quite embarrassing in some situations and a mere cough or sneeze can lead to urine leakage in a pregnant woman. This happens due to an exertion of pressure on the muscles in the bladder sphincter and in the pelvic floor. Similarly, after childbirth, problems related to incontinence might continue as delivering a child weakens the pelvic floor muscles that cause an overactive bladder.
Some other reasons that might lead to urinary incontinence during and after pregnancy are:
- Bladder nerve damage
- Change in position of urethra and bladder during pregnancy
- An episiotomy or a cut made in the pelvic floor muscle during childbirth for easy delivery
Ways to manage pregnancy-related OAB:
Use panty liners:
Using panty liners can be really helpful in preventing embarrassing situations. They can be fitted to your underwear to manage urine leakage during the day. Change it once to avoid skin irritation and prevent infection.
Train your bladder:
This might be a difficult task in the beginning but with practice, you might be able to control your bladder. For two days put your bladder under observation and note your pee timings. The key is to be in command of your bladder and train it to control the urge to pee immediately. And this has no side effects too.
For instance, if your schedule to pee is after every one hour, the next hour you feel the urge to pee, try to control it for 10 more minutes before you hit the bathroom. Follow this pattern for a few days before you decide to stretch the control time by an extra 10 minutes.
However, if this method does not work, visit your doctor for help.
Kegel exercises are recommended by doctors during pregnancy to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and control the functioning of the bladder during pregnancy. The best thing about Kegel exercises is that you can do them at any time, standing or sitting or even lying down.
When you sit to urinate, stop the act midway by contracting your muscles. Hold the contraction of 3-5 seconds before you release again. This way you can identify your kegel muscles. However, consult with a doctor always before starting Kegel exercises during pregnancy.
For post-partum exercise, Kegel exercises are very important as they will help to control your urinary incontinence post childbirth.
Watch your diet:
It is important what you eat during pregnancy because it plays an important role in contributing to your bladder spasms. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners as they may trigger OAB.
Besides these, you can also visit a doctor for medications if none of these management tips help.
When to visit a doctor?
It is common to have an overactive bladder during pregnancy which you can control following the above tips but this problem should subside down within 6 weeks of childbirth. But if it still continues, you must visit a doctor as OAB can lead to long-term problems.
OAB during pregnancy though not treatable is completely manageable.