Did you know that November is National Bladder Health Month?? (TBH, I only just recently found that out).I know, you’re probably thinking “there’s a month for everything now!” Probably true, lol.
BUT, what a great opportunity to talk about something that is so prevalent for women who’ve had babies, yet is not talked about nearly enough!!
Do you get an image of a woman in her 70s in the Depends commercial when you think about that word??
The truth is that if you’ve had a baby, the chances of you experiencing symptoms of incontinence are pretty high. It’s really very common, and unfortunately that sometimes gets confused with normal. (hint: it’s NOT normal!)
What is incontinence, exactly?
The are several different kinds of incontinence, including flatal, fecal, and urinary. Since urinary incontinence is most prevalent in postpartum women, that’s what we’re gonna focus on here. (we’ll save poop talk for another day, ha.)
Stress incontinence is a result of increased pressure on your bladder when you exert yourself- whether it’s sneezing, coughing, laughing, or doing higher intensity exercise like jumping or running.
Urge incontinence is leaking that’s associated with the urgency to pee. So usually the feeling like you can’t make it to the bathroom in time, so leaking occurs. You might even experience something that triggers the feeling of urgency, like when you get near the toilet, or hearing running water.
Just as it sounds, this one is a mixture of stress and urge incontinence. You could be experiencing symptoms of both at different times.
No, you don’t have to “just deal with it”.
Maybe you think “well, I’ve had kids so this is just part of life now.” Or maybe you’ve been told that you should just expect this as part of getting older.
While it’s true that there are factors that play into whether or not you experience symptoms- age, genetics/family history, number of births, just to name a few- it is possible to treat it.
It’s not the easiest thing to talk about, I know. But if you’re starting to notice that it’s affecting you more than just physically, it can be such a life-changer to seek help.
What can you do about it?
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of incontinence, if possible and available to you, consider working with a pelvic health physiotherapist. These professionals can conduct thorough assessments and provide treatment plans specific to your symptoms. If that isn’t an option for you, you can also ask your OB-GYN for an assessment.
There are also steps you can take on your own. Learn and practice your connection breath so that you can be mindful of how your breathing affects your pelvic floor.
You can also adjust your activities and workouts to address your issues and making adjustments to avoid making symptoms worse. That doesn’t mean that you have to quit doing any or all exercise!
Typically doing some trial and error with exercise modifications allow you to continue doing the things you want to do. This is where working with a pelvic health physiotherapist can be really helpful, because they can prescribe specific exercises and modifications, as well as teaching you how to use that connection breath effectively with specific exercises.
Remember, you’re not alone
As many as 50% of women have experienced symptoms of incontinence. That’s a lot! I know it can be an embarrassing topic but talking about it to someone, even if it’s just a friend, can be helpful in becoming more comfortable with it. Once you realize that you’re not the only one that experiences it, you can be more open to receiving help. And you’ll be one step closer to getting back to living and enjoying life!