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.