Is Incontinence Normal After Giving Birth?

Back when you were a girl, you noticed older women huddling together sometimes, whispering about “female problems.” What were those, you wondered? 

Well, now you know. You just gave birth and you’re experiencing some side effects that have you whispering with your girlfriends: “Is it normal to leak after you give birth?”

About a third of women experience some urinary incontinence after giving birth to their beautiful babies. While leaking is normal post-childbirth, it’s certainly not comfortable. Here at OBGYN Care of Houston, our founder and expert OB/GYN Sharon Smith, MD, offers some practical tips on why you develop urinary incontinence after pregnancy, how to stop the leaks, and what to do if incontinence persists six weeks after delivery.

Pregnancy and childbirth weaken your muscles

You’re probably not surprised to learn that the extra pounds you gained while gestating your new baby put stress on all of your urogenital tissues, including your bladder. When you were pregnant, you probably had to urinate more often because your expanding uterus pressed against your bladder, reducing its volume.

But even after your baby is safely in your arms, your uterus presses on your bladder while it shrinks to its normal size. The trauma of giving birth stretched all of your urogenital muscles to the max, making your urethra weaker. Finally, the hormones of birth and postpartum further weaken your muscles and organs, increasing your chances of leaking urine when you:

While your body adjusts to life post-pregnancy, you can catch urine dribbles by wearing mini pads and changing them frequently. Dr. Smith also recommends lifestyle adjustments to make this period more comfortable and less embarrassing, while supporting the needs of your urogenital tissues.

Stop the drips

Continue the lifestyle adjustments you made to ensure your baby’s health. Your own body also thrives and recovers more easily when you eat a whole foods diet filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, good-quality protein, healthy fats, and plenty of micronutrients. A fiber-rich diet also helps you avoid constipation, which can add pressure to your bladder.

Train your muscles and shed your post-pregnancy pounds with daily workouts and walks. If you don’t feel quite up to your pre-pregnancy workout routine, ask us to help you find fun ways to add more activity into your life that allows you to grow stronger while still spending time with your baby. 

Doing your Kegel exercises several times a day helps rebuild your urethral muscles and tones your bladder, too. You can also train yourself to hold urine longer by urinating before you get the urge — on an every-half-hour schedule —  and then gradually lengthening the time between trips to the bathroom.

Even if you’re afraid of overtaxing your bladder, stay hydrated with plenty of water. Drinking at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water refreshes your tissues, helps you detox, and also prevents urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Supercharge your tissues again

If Kegels, exercise, diet, and other healthy habits don’t stop the drips, we may recommend treatments to rejuvenate your urogenital tissues. Depending on the severity of your incontinence and other symptoms you may have, including painful sex, we may recommend:

O-Shot®

The O-Shot harnesses the power of your own blood to restore urogenital tissues so that your muscles are strong enough to retain urine. As an added bonus, the O-Shot restores the youthful look of your vulva, increases sexual sensation, and enhances orgasm.

Botox®

The world’s favorite wrinkle remedy can help your bladder, too. Botox’s neuromodulatory capabilities relax your bladder so it can hold and retain more urine.

Surgery

If you’ve had multiple births and aren’t recovering control over your bladder or if your urinary incontinence is severe, Dr. Smith may recommend surgery to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

You don’t have to spend your time running to the bathroom instead of cuddling your newborn. Contact us today for help with bladder training, Kegel exercises, or incontinence treatments. Just phone our friendly office staff or request an appointment online

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