Why am I Leaking Urine after Childbirth?
Incontinence after childbirth is common. Your body went through a lot during pregnancy, and even more during the delivery. If you had urinary incontinence while you were pregnant, you should not expect it to resolve on its own right away after giving birth. Your Pelvic Floor Muscles still aren't as healthy as they should be. If you didn't have urinary incontinence while you were pregnant, but you are suffering after giving birth, the most common cause is tearing following a vaginal delivery. The bigger the tear, the bigger the trauma. Your pelvic floor muscles have been traumatized, which is going to make them inherently weaker. Even when there hasn’t been a tear, your pelvic floor muscles have been stretched out, so they are at least a little weaker than they were before delivery and before pregnancy. If you cough, sneeze, or laugh and you cannot stop yourself from peeing your pants, you are suffering from a very common post-natal condition called "Stress incontinence." It is common for women right after vaginal delivery to feel like their pelvic floor muscles just aren't as strong, but this should go away and you should feel like that heals up. If after 6 weeks you haven’t stopped leaking please go seek out help.
Even after a c-section your muscles have been lengthened. They had a lot of pressure on them during pregnancy and got stretched out, but they should return to their original state by about 6 weeks after the delivery of your baby. Another common thing during pregnancy is that the way we breathe gets off. Our diaphragm should descend as we inhale and ascend as we exhale. But we have a baby sitting on top of our uterus and this inflates our normal diaphragm, so the diaphragm doesn’t work properly and the pelvic floor doesn’t work properly. This uncoordinated breathing that we get into can also be a source of urine leaks both during and after pregnancy. You can help it during pregnancy, but after pregnancy you really have to retrain your body to breathe properly or risk persistent incontinence after childbirth.
Treament for Incontinence after Childbirth
Incontinence after childbirth is not a life sentence no matter what your sister says. There is a pretty straight forward cure for incontinence after delivery, but it takes a little exercise on your part. Our pelvic floor muscles form a sling from our pubic bone all the way to our tailbone; during childbirth your pelvic floor muscles were stretched out to accomodate the delivery of your baby. All of our muscles in our body have a proper length-tension relationship, this s how we identify healthy muscles. A tailbone or coccyx injury during pregnancy will throw off the length of your pelvic floor muscles making your pelvic floor weak. So, if our tailbone got messed up during childbirth, which it can, it needs to be put into the right spot so that you can do a proper contraction.
Nobody likes to talk about it, but when we have vaginal deliveries we can tear our pelvic floors. We have to let those heal because those are going to affect how strong our pelvic floor muscles are. If you did have a really bad tear, the worst case scenario is a tear all the way back to your anus and this is going to leave you with an inherent weakness in your pelvic floor. You have to let that heal. Once you have healed from any rips or tears, you do want to make sure you can complete a strong pelvic floor muscle contraction, or Kegel. To do a proper Kegel means you can both contract and release the pelvic floor muscles with coordinated breathing and without also clenching your butt muscles. If you are having difficulty, or you don't know how to do a pelvic floor muscle contraction you need to speak with a pelvic floor physical therapist, who can make sure you're doing them properly. Your OB/GYN is a great source of information, but pelvic floor physical therapy will help you ensure proper contraction and relaxation, with coordinated diapragmatic breathing because your pelvic floor physical therapist will have the time to spend with you. Most women do not really know how to do a proper pelvic floor contraction, or Kegel, until they go to Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy. Find the help you need and Love Your Life, today.
Other FAQs about Incontinence after Childbirth
Can you Leak Urine and not Know it?
The short answer is yes. Want to know more?
-Dr. Lauren Collier Peterson, PT, DPT
FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers of Oklahoma City provides pelvic floor physical therapy in Lakeside, The Village, Nichols Hills and surrounding NW Oklahoma City. Our pelvic floor physical therapists are specially trained to treat all types of pelvic floor dysfunction including incontinence in men and women. Our practitioners take a patient-centered individualized approach that focuses on your pelvic health needs. If you are unsure about your pelvic health, or you want to see the FYZICAL Difference for yourself, schedule a free consultation today.