The common link between pregnancy and incontinence – and how you can avoid it

Being pregnant should be an enjoyable time, during which you prepare for the new addition to your family.


It is a time of change. Your body will adjust throughout the weeks of pregnancy, preparing itself for the impending delivery.

With these changes come side effects, from morning sickness in the first few weeks, to managing accidental urine leakage with incontinence pads for women.

Common, yet rarely discussed

It is probably fair to say that a large proportion of pregnant women will, at some point in their pregnancy, experience urinary incontinence. This is when urine escapes from your bladder when you least expect it or want it to.

Sneezing, coughing, laughing or even lifting something can cause an involuntary leak. In most cases, this leak is small but still enough to cause undergarments to be changed several times a day. If you are working during pregnancy or attempting to continue with any semblance of normal life, this is clearly inconvenient and more than a little embarrassing.

Ordinary sanitary products are not suited to collecting urine; thus, the best option is to choose specific products such as incontinence pads for women.

Although a common and also expected side effect of being pregnant, incontinence is rarely discussed. It may be ‘normal’, it may even be seen as an accepted part of pregnancy but the need to acknowledge should be made, followed by discussions relating to prevention and management.

Can incontinence in pregnancy be prevented?

It may be possible but you need to consider:

  • The growing baby – the weight of the baby, will exert increasing pressure on the bladder to the point that in late pregnancy, the baby will probably be sat on your bladder. Not only does this cause pressure on the bladder, but it also exerts increasing pressure on the muscles and ligaments that control the on/off ‘tap’ to your bladder.
  • Hormones – your body is surging with hormones right from the second the egg is fertilised. And you need them all. They will ensure the baby grows in the right place as well as preparing your body for the birth. The problem is, these hormones relax muscles and joints which is great for the birth but not such good news when you are trying to control your bladder.

In essence, there is very little you can do about these two contributing factors but there are some steps that you can take to control and manage incontinence during and after pregnancy.

Managing incontinence in pregnancy

The good thing is that incontinence during pregnancy and after the birth tends to be a short-term issue. Many women find that when their body has healed, usually within three to six months, the incontinence is no longer an issue.

However, by working with your body during pregnancy, you can minimise the impact of incontinence and possibly prevent it completely:

  • Be prepared – incontinence is, in most cases, a short-term issue related specifically to pregnancy. Investing in incontinence products for women can help to avoid the messiness and the unpleasant odour too. You will also feel more comfortable and confident.
  • Exercise – we are not suggesting you hit the gym but rather you strengthen pelvic floor muscles in preparation for the increasing weight of pregnancy, as well as the birth. Pelvic floor exercises are clench and release type exercises that do a great job of strengthening these important muscles. Start them before pregnancy, continue throughout and keep going after the birth and beyond to bid stress incontinence goodbye.
  • Diet – you may find that you naturally change your diet during pregnancy. Tastes changes, usually driven by surges in hormones thus, tea and coffee, may leave you feeling nauseous, etc. Caffeinated drinks, tea, coffee and some fruit juices can also irritate the bladder so eliminate them or cut back on your intake.
  • Natural juices – you might think that the glass of orange juice in the morning is doing great things for you and the baby, but the acid may be contributing to incontinence. Spicy foods can also irritate the bladder.
  • Drink more water – it seems counterintuitive that when you are incontinent that you should drink more water. A major contributing factor to some kinds of incontinence is an irritated bladder. Up your intake of water just a little and see if it helps. However, don’t go overboard as this can lead to your bladder being ‘flooded’ and you do nothing but pee.

Incontinence during pregnancy is nothing to be embarrassed about. Take action to manage it or even prevent it to enjoy your pregnancy – and your new baby when they arrive.


HARTMANN Direct supply a range of incontinence products, including a range suited for use during and after pregnancy. We understand not only the need for quality products at affordable prices, but information on incontinence too, both managing and preventing it where possible.


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A Royal Induction Of Labour

So, our dearest Kate Middleton is over due! Its no fun going over that magical date, and we are all desperate for some news!!! I guess girl, 7lb 2oz, and gorgeous like her mummy! #RoyalSweepstake anyone?!

A pregnancy normally lasts anywhere between 38 weeks and 42 weeks and babies born between these weeks are classed as ‘term’. Anything before 38 weeks is classed as early and anything over 40 weeks is classed as over-due. But, only a very small number of babies arrive on their due date, around 5%! Most babies have arrived by the 42 week mark but those who haven’t, labours are often induced between the 40th and 42nd week. Many are medical inductions, with women finding themselves booked onto the labour ward with a concoction of pessaries, drips and even sections just to get that stubborn baby out!

Inducing a labour naturally should only be attempted once a woman hits the 40 week mark, never earlier and should always be done with caution, and for those who are in the ‘low risk’ category, and importantly, kept fun! If that baby isn’t ready to be born, it won’t happen! But, you can have lots of light hearted fun trying! Please don’t try any of the following if you are not yet term, and always consult your midwife first.

So Kate Middleton, my dear, If you are reading, Have a go at some of these tried and tested suggestions!

Have Sex. Firstly, I am so sorry Ma’am. Having sex is a very good way to get labour going. Many, many women and medical practitioners have dished out this advice. Sex can stimulate labour in a couple of ways. Firstly, huge levels of oxytocin are released into the body when getting busy under the sheets. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for trigging off, intensifying and regulating contractions, it is knows as the ‘love hormone’ after all! When a woman has an orgasm, the orgasm causes the uterus to contract, when pregnant this can kick start Braxton hicks (practice contractions) that could then develop into full blown tighetnings. Another way that sex can get things going is by making sure that your man *coughs* delivers the ‘goods’. Prostaglandins are found in semen that soften and ripen the cervix, preparing it for labour. These are the same hormones found in the pessaries that midwives administer when starting an induction. I know what I would prefer… If you don’t feel too tired that is!

Stretch and Sweep. This must only be performed by medical professionals, OK?! Your midwife gently but firmly runs her finger around your cervix (neck of the womb) separating the membranes (bag of waters) from the cervix and stretching the gap in the cervix by a few centimetres. This can stimulate the cervix into action, triggering labour. Unfortunately, if your body isn’t readying for labour and you cervix is still high up and closed a S&S may not be possible to perform. If a S&S is going to work, you will likely go into labour within 48 hours and is the first step a midwife will take to get your labour into action. A stretch and sweep is a very safe and minimal risk procedure, as long as your waters have not broken or you are already in labour.

Spicy Foods. No personal experience of this one, a Pepperami is spicy enough for me (How embarrassing). But apparently having a good hot curry can do the trick. The spices in a super hot curry can aggravate the bowels which lie next to the uterus, thus aggravating it into contractions. Its a good excuse for a night off from cooking, so don’t order that usual chicken korma, go for a vindaloo!

Dance. So many youtube videos showing women dancing themselves into labour. Why? Who knows! Maybe its because you are opening up those hips, moving baby down into position for labour. Their head could be bouncing around on your cervix, stimulating it in the process. Maybe it because you are so pumped up happy dancing, your happy hormones are going into overdrive?! It’s good exercise too, and if you already have little ones (Kate, Get George involved!) it’s great fun to dance with them too. Make it into a game! Watch this video right to the end, It worked for her, Haha! *Strong language warning*


Bounce of birthing ball. Same as the dancing, It opens up the hips, and gets back right into position. There are lots of different exercises that you can do on your birthing ball to get things going. Sitting with your legs hip width apart and gently bouncing, rocking your hips forwards and backwards and in a circular motion and wall squats are all great (and definitely worth a giggle too) So, step away from the sofa mama, and get bouncing!

Raspberry Leaf Tea. Not particularly known for getting you into labour, but it will prepare you for labour. Raspberry leaf can be taken in tea form, or capsules for those who don’t like the taste. Its cheap and can be found in health food shops and a few cups a day from the 38 week mark can certainly help tone the uterus making Braxton hicks stronger, turning them into nice strong contractions when the time comes. Drinking in late pregnancy can also help boost the immune sytem of the expectant mother, and after labour help increase milk supply and aid the uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size more easily. I didn’t think that the uterine tonic it tasted bad at all, and it has so many other health benefits, not jut for pregnancy, such as being rich in Vitamin B, Calcium and Iron. It is commonly used for helping people get through the flu, lower blood pressure, acne and even diarrhoea. Raspberry Leaf Tea is so popular for women’s health helping to regulate periods and easing heavy menstruation. It’s worth having a box in the cupboard at all times!

Pineapple. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, thought to be responsible for softening the cervix and triggering labour. The tough core is best for this, although you would have t eat tonnes of the stuff, which will not only trigger the bowels (like a curry) but probably remove the skin form your mouth. Hmmmm. Canned and juiced pineapple doesn’t have the same affect though unfortunately as the bromelain is lost when processed. Best to buy fresh!

Laughing. I always remember my dad taking me down a very steep hill covered in speed bumps. It didn’t get the baby out, but I did trigger strong Braxton hicks from laughing so much. I think he wanted to see if the bumpy ride would kick start anything though! Go see a good stand up comedian or if you feel safer at home, treat yourself to a new hilarious DVD. My advice, sit on a towel. Just in case.

Walking & climbing the stairs. A quick paced walk is always top of the advice list dished out by midwives. The action of walking gets baby head down and pressing on the cervix, oxytocin is released into the body and your hips are opened up by walking. The oxytocin helps to trigger and regulate contractions, so if you are having a few niggly tightening’s, going for a walk could intensify and regulate them into established labour. Don’t go suddenly taking up Nordic power walking though. That isn’t good. And don’t stray too far from home, Kate. I heard the Kensington grounds are massive.

Nipple stimulation. This falls into the ‘sex’ paragraph really. There is actually evidence that this method of natural induction works as well, so its definitely worth doing. Gently rolling or rubbing your nipples and the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple) once again releases *wait for it…* OXYTOCIN! It is basically tricking your body into thinking that you are nursing your suckling baby. Sneaky Body! You can work this inducton tecniquee into the sex bit too, as it can be quite time consuming. Aim for an hour of tweeking *giggles*, 15 minutes at a time on each side then alternating between sides.

Birth visualisation and meditation.  Many women like to really take themselves into a relaxing medative visulation journey to induce labour. Sitting and creating strong visual images in your mind can start the body off in a truly magical way. May women choose to visualise themselves growing, then labouring and some women use ‘likenesses’ to start labour, such as a flower opening into full bloom, or a small stream growing and growing into the sea. This method of induction has been tried an tested throughout civilisations, across the globe over thousands of years. It is completely harmless, safe and does not risk any harm to baby. It’s worth finding a practitioner of meditation that specialises in birth and pregnancy (many hypnobirthing teachers can be found all over the country) that can help you with this method.

So, Kate, fancy having a go at any of those? What worked for us? With Willow, I was medically induced which I now feel very sad about. But Olive arrived with a good walk to Tesco starting things off and Ivy- bouncing on my ball, drinking my body weight in Raspberry leaf Tea (I swear it worked, as my established labour was only 17 minutes long!) and sex the night before… thinking about that now, was a stupid Idea as I ended up going into labour 2 days over my due date, right in the middle of Willows birthday celebrations… meaning I missed her whole party, And 2 kids sharing a birthday 24 hours apart. If only we waited one more night before doing the deed….

38 weeks ivy