An Overview of Incontinence After Childbirth

According to a study in 2019, most women experience urinary incontinence in the second trimester of their pregnancy. The condition is seen to prevail in majority of the cases until the third month after the child is born. Urinary incontinence is caused when urine passes unintentionally and involuntarily. Vaginal childbirth is seen to increase the risk of developing this health condition. Although incontinence after childbirth is common and will resolve with time, a few risk factors are associated if left untreated. Therefore, it is necessary to treat or prevent it. Let us discuss how.

What Is Incontinence After Childbirth?

It is a well-known fact that incontinence affects women more than men. Hormonal changes occur in the body during childbirth and menopause, which leads to urinary incontinence. As the pelvic floor muscles support the urinary bladder during vaginal childbirth or pregnancy, the anatomical changes weaken those muscles. In a few women, the pelvic floor muscles are damaged while delivering the baby. The nerves of the bladder are at a high risk of getting damaged during vaginal deliveries. Incontinence after childbirth gets diagnosed when a woman is unable to control the bladder. The common kinds of incontinence they develop are urge and stress incontinence.

Urge incontinence is also called an overactive bladder, wherein the patient has urine leakage due to an intense urge to urinate. Stress incontinence after childbirth occurs when pressure on the bladder weakens the pelvic floor muscles. The leakages may occur due to physical activities like coughing, laughing or sneezing. If a patient is experiencing urinary incontinence with all the above symptoms, it is called mixed incontinence. The symptoms of urinary incontinence are:

  • Pelvic area spasms
  • Urine leakages during sleep
  • Peeing more than twice at night and eight times a day

If you are pregnant, you should know when to contact a doctor. Small quantities of urine discharges are common during pregnancy. This condition will not be a major concern if it lasts for a few weeks after the child is born. But women should get help from skilled health care providers in Chennai if incontinence continues six weeks after childbirth. Incontinence after childbirth affects an individual's mental health and eventually impacts their quality of life. Therefore, it is essential to get advice from doctors and draw a treatment plan to ease incontinence symptoms.

A pregnant woman listening to a female doctor

What Are the Ways to Treat & Manage Incontinence After Childbirth?

Women experience incontinence when they have their first child, have bladder issues, go through a long labour, expect a baby of higher birth weight, already have incontinence issues, or face delivery problems like vaginal tears, stitches or forceps birth. Research states that vaginal delivery has a higher risk of developing stress urinary incontinence, than caesarean delivery. There are various ways to treat and manage incontinence after childbirth. The most effective ones are:

Use Absorbent Pads

Absorbent pads will capture leaks when women place them in their underwear. Depending on the severity of incontinence after childbirth, the types of absorbent pads can be chosen by the patient. It varies between panty liners to bulky adult diapers. There are both single-use and reusable ones available. Irrespective of the type of absorbent pad a patient uses, it absorbs urine, prevents leakages and saves the clothes from getting soaked.

Practice Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. A patient can get guidance from a professional health care provider in Chennai to prevent incontinence after childbirth through pelvic floor exercises. Skilled therapists will be able to analyse your health condition and recommend the right exercises to practice.

Use Pessaries

A pessary is a device inserted into the vagina to prevent leakages which offers support to the urethra. Personalized pessaries are available to suit every patient's individual needs and treat incontinence after childbirth. Although certain pessaries are disposable devices for single-use, few others can be used for a long time.

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How to Prevent Incontinence After Pregnancy?

A patient can take steps to prevent the risk of developing urinary incontinence post-pregnancy in the following ways.

  1. Obesity is linked with incontinence. Therefore, pregnant women should maintain a moderate weight to reduce the risk of developing incontinence after childbirth.
  2. Practising Kegel exercises before getting pregnant is the best method to prevent incontinence. Research states that structured pelvic floor muscle training will prevent incontinence during pregnancy.
  3. Healthy bowel movement is essential to prevent incontinence after childbirth. As constipation can put pressure on the urethra and bladder and cause incontinence, pregnant women should consume fibre-rich foods, eat healthy and enhance the bowel movement.

Beyond taking steps to prevent developing incontinence, a majority of women get their problems resolved with time. As it is a side effect of labour and body changes during pregnancy, the body fights hard to get back to normal. In circumstances when the pelvic floor does not recover, patients must seek help from their midwives, nurses or doctors in big cities like Chennai to treat the condition through any of the methods mentioned above. It is important to remember that if incontinence is left untreated, it will become permanent and cause emotional distress. According to a case study in 2016, out of 3,763 women with incontinence after childbirth, three-quarters of them were seen to have the problem for 12 years post-pregnancy.

The Takeaway

Urinary incontinence after childbirth affects nearly one-third of women worldwide. The major culprit is the hormonal change that occurs during pregnancy. JOGO clinic is one of the premium clinics in Chennai providing digital therapeutics techniques and methods to treat incontinence of all kinds.

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