Continence After Delivering Your Baby
Is leakage normal after having a baby?
Following the delivery of your baby, it is common in the first 6-12weeks for women to experience some mild bladder leakage.
If you delivered your baby vaginally then the pelvic floor muscles have been stretched and possibly cut or torn during the delivery process. As a result, both the pelvic muscles and tissues will be swollen and will need time to heal. During this healing process, women can experience difficulty controlling their bladder and sometimes bowel function.
The swelling and wounded tissues can make it challenging for the pelvic floor muscles to function as they normally do. In addition, the pelvic floor muscles may have weakened during your pregnancy secondary to the weight of the baby inside your uterus.
You may be experiencing issues with getting to the toilet on time, sudden urgency to go to the toilet, leaking with a cough/sneeze/laugh or getting up from a chair, or holding in wind.
What you can do to assist the recovery after your delivery?
- Rest – during the day a new mum should aim for at least 2 hours of flat rest time. This can be in chunks of time i.e. 20-30minutes across the day. By lying flat you will take away any weight bearing down on the pelvic tissues thereby allowing them to heal and recover.
- Ice – if your pelvic tissues continue to feel swollen and heavy then applying ice for 15-20minutes every 1-2hours can help to control this fluid build up. By reducing the swelling these tissues will heal faster.
- Compression – wearing firm, supportive underwear/leggings/shorts will assist in controlling a build up of fluid in the pelvic tissues and also help to reinforce the pelvic floor muscles as they heal.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises – by exercising an injured muscle you are actually assisting its healing too. During the postnatal period, you must be sensible about how often you exercise your pelvic floor, as it is still healing and weakened you need to be mindful not to over work it.
- We suggest doing your main set of pelvic floor exercises in the evening before bed so that your muscles can rest overnight. Begin by simply trying to contract and relax your pelvic floor 10 times, ensuring you relax your pelvic floor all the way down. Once you can complete 10 repetitions aim to hold your squeeze at the top for 2 seconds and gradually increase this hold to 10secs over time. Your aim should be 10seconds x 10 repetitions.
These symptoms should improve with time but if by 3-4months post-birth your symptoms have worsened or have remained unchanged then seeking the support of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist is encouraged to ensure you pelvic floor muscles return to their normal level of function. Ignoring these symptoms for too long will only place you at risk of further problems occurring in the future such as pelvic organ prolapse.
If you are experiencing symptoms of bladder and/or bowel leakage then please make contact with our Women’s Health Physiotherapist Amy and we can arrange time for an assessment and get you started on a pelvic floor management plan.
At the FITMUMs Program we are hear to help new mums with any issue big or small.